How Story-telling can elevate your website

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When we look at the very best content, it’s almost always about telling a story: From memorable TV adverts that run like a romantic mini series to sophisticated modern content campaigns that draw on the user community for experiences, the straight narrative provides the kind of emotional connection that builds a great brand.

Websites in particular can benefit by placing storytelling and narrative techniques at their heart: this allows an emotional connection where otherwise the user is just reading information on a screen. If the organisation you are working with already has a strong brand story, or even their own marketing department, they will likely be full of ideas for compelling content to go on the site; but even if you’re working with a small local business or a start-up, you can help them by incorporating narrative techniques into their site and encouraging them to develop a story.

Building a narrative for the business or brand you are promoting elevates a website from shop window to company headquarters. It places the site at the centre of the business’ drive for customers, and can even help focus its own goals and direction. Naturally, narrative elements are an excellent way of incorporating text into a site for SEO and other purposes.

Everyone loves a story, so how can even basic sites incorporate narrative elements that ensure eyes stay on the page a little longer?

Stories that are authentic and inspired are arguably the most compelling and avoid the pitfalls associated with being caught out with a fake story, which, in these days of social media, can be fatal. And anyway, why look further? Most businesses were founded for a reason and their owners and staff are dedicated to what they do. Encourage them to look within, or just get them to tell their story and figure out how to present it.

How to fix user-generated content pitfalls

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Here are the pitfalls of user-generated content and how to fix them.

1. It Needs To Be Moderated

In an ideal world, all user generated content would stick to the rules and adhere to the site’s standards. Sadly, that’s not the case. Users will upload whatever they like, from inappropriate sites, to offensive words, or totally irrelevant content.

HOW TO AVOID IT

Ensure you build in features where content can be moderated. This means that all reviews which are submitted are sent through a screening process before being put live for everyone to see. This can take a couple of days to sift through depending on the levels of content which has been uploaded, but ensures the site holds its reputation and doesn’t post offensive, random or meaningless content.

You can also implement functions for the UX of a site which means users can report content themselves. This is the system many large companies such as Facebook and Instagram have built in. The pros of this is that content is available instantly for other users to see and engage with but means unwanted content can also get through.

2. People Use It For Their Own Personal Gain

Once user generated content begins to roll in, it can soon increase the site’s popularity, raise the share count, and have numerous benefits. And this will be something others will latch onto. Users can submit their own content for personal gain, rather than that of the site.

HOW TO AVOID IT

This comes under careful moderation again, but instead of just looking out for offensive or inappropriate content, you look at the context of what has been submitted and whether it’s for personal gain of the contributor. It’s worth adding in code so that any links submitted, automatically default to “no-follow.” Otherwise you’ll have people uploading content purely for a backlink to their own site. Also check the links they are submitting, where they are pointing to and if they are promoting, selling or advertising anything. You can build in a script that picks up certain keywords and blocks them from appearing or flags up certain comments. This can be a useful feature to easily filter through the genuine and the spam content.

3. You Need An Engaged Community To Continuously Generate New Content

It can take a while for a community to become engaged and known enough to submit content. Many companies rely on user generated content as part of their marketing strategy, yet don’t account for the initial time taken to gather loyal readers and contributors. With no users, there will be no user-submitted content. Simple, but true.

HOW TO AVOID IT

Get people to know the company and build a loyal following before requesting content. If those wanting to submit something stumble across your site and see it is under-developed, you have hardly any social media followers and no presence, they won’t see the worth in submitting anything. Build a solid base and learn what motivates people to want to submit content and get them excited about joining part of your community. Users want to have their work, ideas and submissions featured on an aesthetically pleasing site that has been well-designed and feels premium. Ensure plenty of thought has gone into the design process of the look of the site, as well as making the user journey to actually submit the content an easy one. People that find the process easy and rewarding will be likely to return and recommend it to others.

4. Copyright Infringement

With an in-house content creation team, submissions usually have to go through a process before they reach publication. They will be checked, assets confirmed as royalty-free and they will have a knowledge of what you can and what you can’t do. By allowing users to submit content you can be opening yourself to a myriad of copyright infringements on everything from duplicate content to image usage.

HOW TO AVOID IT

To avoid receiving a hefty copyright infringement lawsuit in your inbox, it’s important you put certain steps into place. With user generated content there are many questions about who is liable for third-party content if it turns out to be false, improper or harmful; unless you make it clear initially, the blame could fall on the website owner. Ensure you have a contract and guidelines in place that stipulates any content users submit is their own responsibility and they are liable should any issues arise. Make guidelines that states images should be royalty-free and available for re-use before they submit them.

5. Unverified Sources Can Damage Website Credibility

When users are free to submit whatever content they like, there is bound to be a fair amount of fake news. You can never really know who every person who submits something is, nor where they are getting their facts and statements from. Negative comments or sources can damage a brand, particularly when other users have no way of knowing if the contributor is trustworthy or not.

HOW TO AVOID IT

Many sites have come across issues with this, with popular social media sites having many users create fake profiles of companies or celebrities. This can be very damaging to a brand and is why it is an idea to have verified users. Twitter and Instagram are known by the well-recognised blue tick which ensures other users know exactly who is posting content. Other sites such as Waze and TripAdvisor award badges to those who are loyal and regular contributors. Not only does this give an incentive to continually contribute, but other users (and moderators) know they are more trustworthy and less likely to post spam or malicious content that could damage the reputation of a site.

Everything About Domain Mapping

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What is Domain Mapping?

Domain mapping refers to how visitors to your website are directed to different domains and subdomains and what URLs will be displayed in the visitors’ browsers.

When you first set up your online business, one of the very first things that you do is register a domain name for your company website. But depending on the business, it could be wiser to actually register multiple domain names at once. This is because you will want to lease the primary domain name you plan on using in addition to all related TLDs. This way, cybersquatters will not be able to hold your domain name hostage, especially once you have grown into a more established brand.

With domain mapping, this isn’t the case. A visitor will still see that URL in their browser even if the content is actually being hosted on the domain.

Benefits of Domain Mapping

Although domain mapping may seem a bit esoteric and complex at first, it serves several purposes and offers many benefits:

1. MAKE WEB ADDRESSES EASIER TO REMEMBER

With domain mapping, you can serve up the content from your main domain. This makes it easier to brand your sites without having to manage several different sites.

2. BOOST YOUR WEB DEVELOPMENT CAREER

If you are a web developer yourself but are not admittedly well-acquainted with domain mapping already, you would do well to change that.

One of the easiest ways would be to look at online web development programs that one can take to read through documentation to get caught up to speed on how domain mapping can help their efforts and how to implement it. These kinds of programs can be more comprehensive than university courses and offer an impressive 88% job success rate for those who successfully complete the programs.

3. SHIELD YOUR BRAND FROM COMPETITORS

Remember, it’s a good idea to purchase several different related domains in anticipation of competitors snatching them up from you. Choosing the right domain names is essential to protecting your brand.

With domain mapping, you can manage those domains just as easily as if they were your primary site, so you no longer need to leave them empty.

4. SAVE TIME AND LOWER DEVELOPMENT EXPENSES

Development isn’t cheap and time is money. While the maintenance costs for a website are already high enough, adding in separate domains can sometimes break the bank due to the increased complexity of managing so many different moving pieces.

Domain mapping can lower expenses and save time by keeping everything tidy and in one place. By managing everything from a single WordPress installation, for example, you can push updates to all your subdomains at once, saving you from the tedium of going through each domain and making the same updates.

5. MANAGE CLIENT SITES FROM ONE PLACE

If you’re a freelance developer or run an agency, using domain mapping for some of your clients’ sites can save you time as well. For example, if several clients want blogs, and you use the same infrastructure for them, you can easily push updates and changes to all of them at the same time. In short, domain mapping can make maintaining sites much easier and quicker.

How to Implement Domain Mapping

If you’re sold on the benefits of domain mapping, here’s a quick primer on the steps you’ll need to take to get started:

  1. Choose a domain registrar: The ideal registrar you choose should come with a number of important features including adequate hosting for keeping your website visitor friendly, SSL certification to ensure security, 24/7 customer support, comprehensive packages that make it easy to operate your online business.
  2. Register the domains you’re interested in: These can either be domain misspells (otherwise known as typosquatting), or related domains. Whatever you decide to go with, you’ll need to have it registered before you can get started.
  3. Install WordPress Multisite: WordPress is one of the easiest ways to develop websites, and that holds true for domain mapped sites as well. Plus, considering WordPress sites account for over a third of the entire internet, you can’t go wrong with the famed CMS. 
  4. Configure your DNS settings: Next, you’ll need to point all your name servers to your hosting account. These changes can take up to 72 hours to go into effect.
  5. Add domains to your hosting plan: From your hosting platform, you’ll need to link your custom domains. You can usually do this from your cPanel.
  6. Map subsites to your custom domains: Once you have your domains set up, you’ll need to link them through WordPress. 
  7. Take note that domain mapping is not necessary for transferring a domain name. When you map a domain, you’re simply telling your domain where it can find your website on the internet through having your name servers updated. When you change your name, it only affects where the domain has been resolved.

The Bottom Line

While domain mapping isn’t necessary for all websites, it can still be a major timesaver. By utilizing it properly, you can greatly improve the standing of your online business by saving time and money, making website management easier, and improving the branding of your sites.