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Everyone has something to say, but how many have something to share?

We think there's a big difference between the two. And what we have to share is the expertise we've acquired over the years in web design, search engine optimization, graphic design and email marketing.

As with most things, there's no real substitute for experience. And it's that experience we're willing to share. We hope you find our blog entries beneficial for your marketing efforts. If so, let us know and maybe sign up for our marketing-focused e-newsletterSee a recent example of one of our e-newsletters here.



 

Can we guarantee an ROI on a website re-design?

March 6, 2014

Folks think that SEO could be the thing that help their website make their sales go up.

"If we could just get people to our website..." is what everyone is thinking. But what is your customer thinking?

What happens in their mind when they first land on your website? That could be a big disconnect because any effort to get them to your website can be lost if, once they're there, your message doesn't resonate with them.

So when folks as us "Can you guarantee an ROI on my SEO or website re-design?" Our answer is always, "Unfortunately, not." Why is that?  There's too many things out of our control:

  • the pricing structure: what if your price is more than your competitors and you can't convince a prospect that you're worth the extra cost?
  • the delivery: maybe they love your stuff, but if you can't get it to them when they need it, it doesn't matter how great you or your website is.
  • the service: even if you have what they want, if there's no follow up, or guarantee to the product or service, that could lose a sale, too.
  • the product: let's say a home builder doesn't build the features a customer wants: it doesn't matter if the price is good, it's not what they want.
  • the sales people: you might have good sales people, but if they don't connect with a prospect they're at a disadvantage.

Since we have no control over any of those items, we can't guarantee an ROI on a new website.

What we can do is get people to your website and have them drop you an email or make a call. But even to get someone to your website (someone who has never heard of you) requires a lot of pieces and parts to work together. Those elements are:

  • search engine marketing: this is what happens off your website, and can be web banners, blog posts, social media or any link back that leads prospects back to your website,
  • search engine optimization: this is what happens on your website and uses the right keyword phrases throughout your site, and overlaps with content marketing,
  • content marketing: this is your online knowledge base and shows your audience you're the expert in your industry. If you get content out there that's shared, linked to or "Liked" you'll be way ahead of your competition,
  • social media: we hear company owners say their secretary or sales folks can do social media, but what usually happens is, they do it for two weeks then it drops by the wayside because they already have 100 things to do.

Getting found on Google and social media is an ongoing, ever changing moving target, and without someone guiding you through and helping you avoid the bumps, it too easy to fall into the trap of spinning your wheels. And the worst case is, you could actually be doing your ranking harm by doing something that Google frowns upon.

If you're in the world of marketing, you have to play by Google's rules. If you don't, you're just asking for trouble.

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Things to consider when choosing a web design firm

March 4, 2014

If you're better than your competitors, shouldn't your website be better than theirs? If you think so, it's critical to get the right web design firm. And unless you know the right questions to ask, you may be getting locked into the wrong web design company.

When looking at any web design company's bottom line numbers, please keep in mind: just like with any specialist (consider your industry and how you're different from your competitors), not all web designers are the same. When it comes to selecting a web design firm, consider these points, and be sure to ask these questions:

  1. Do they do custom designs or use templates? Are they using a template that'll make your site look like so many others, or are they developing a custom design that's unique to your organization? If the designer’s site looks like it’s based on a template, that’s what you’ll be getting for your site as well.
  2. What content management system do they use? Getting a content management system (CMS) is like getting a new car – or spouse. Be sure to take a “test drive” or two before making a commitment. If the CMS isn’t low maintenance, it’ll make life more difficult than it needs to be. Click here to see that Drupal is one of the top 3 CMS’s around;
  3. Do they build responsive websites? Google changed their mobile search algorithms to demote websites not built as responsive mobile web design. Make sure your web design firm has expertise to build responsive websites.
  4. Do they have a marketing perspective (is it all about them... or all about you?) Dogs are good marketers: they make you seem like you’re the center of their universe. Marketing is like that: it’s not about you, but about your customers. Read the design firm’s website: if its all about them, and not how they make their customer’s lives better or easier, they’re not marketing-focused;
  5. Do they know what content marketing is? Content marketing is creating content that your audience Likes, links to, and shares. When you do that, you'll be way ahead of your competitors. Since you're an expert in what you do, show it by educating your audience, especially if your competitor's aren't.
  6. Can they help us with social media? Search engines are using social signals (ie: the things your friends or customers  link to, "Like," and share) as relevant to their search engine rankings. The more back links you have to your website, the more it means people like you, so the higher your website will appear in the search results.
  7. Do they use Google’s Keyword Tool? Do they research what phrases people Google to find your products & services? We can tell you exactly what phrases people Google to search what you do. Using the wrong word or phrase will not help people find your site (unless they search for you by name). And since more people don’t know you (or us) than do, the right keywords are critical.

Check out the personality of their website. Does the design firm have dumb stock photos on their site? If so, that’s what you’ll be getting on your site! Do they say you’re how awesome they are? And do you believe them? If that's who they position themselves, so that's how they'll position you. You want you website to educate, engage and entertain, and if a web design firm can't do that for themselves, it's very likely they won't be able to do it for you.

We like to share this type of information because we think we bring these things to the table, and most other web design firms don't. So know what to ask, and when you do, the chances of getting the right Columbus web design firm for you will go way up.

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Web searches: now it's getting personal!

February 27, 2014

In the ever-changing world of SEO and SEM, here's something to look forward to... or not... it remains to be seen.

We've known for a long time that not everyone gets the same search results delivered to them on a Google search. And here's a simple test to see how it works: you and someone else in your office Google the same phrase and compare results. We've done this several of times, and see we don't have the same listings/same order on page one for the same search at, literally, the same time.

Google's +1 button

Google has stated that their Google+ pages aren't going to get any more weight than other social media signals, but everyone has found that hard to believe. Their +1 button works similar Facebook's to “likes.” The more you get, the more Google sees your content as being relevant.

And there's been this theory going around that if your Google+ page had enough +1s, it could beat out a website with better SEO than yours. (Of course, anything related to Google is a theory since they are notoriously close-mouthed about what signals their algorithms search for.)

When you Google something, and you’re on Google+, you would see results your friends +1 (liked) show up higher than results that would be there for someone else NOT on Google+.

Facebook and bing

Bing and Facebook have teamed upon this feature for a long time already.

Both those sites give higher search results based on the things your friends on Facebook have “liked.” So if you’re seeking Thai restaurants in your city and a Facebook friend of yours “likes” a certain restaurant, that restaurant will likely appear higher in your search engine results than it would in someone else's search results.

They call this their "trusted search."

Now it's getting personal 

So these days it is very likely that no two people will have the exact same search results, even if they're searching the same keywords.

In the past couple of years, it's been the accepted belief in the SEO and SEM world that back links are the best way to get folks your website. The theory is, the more back links you have, the more it means people like your website and content, so the higher your website will appear in the search results.

Some SEO experts ask what will happen when Google's rankings aren’t just determined by back links. Well, you can hear what Google's world would be like if back links didn't play a huge role in search engine results here, as explained by Matt Cutts, the head of Google's WebSpam team and frequent blogger on all things SEO.

Yet one more reason social media is critical

We know, you've heard it before, search engines are using social signals (ie: the things your friends link to, "Like," and share) as relevant to their search engine rankings. 

As a Columbus web design/social media/content marketing firm, we constantly keep on top of these elements for you to keep abreast of the ever-changing world of social media and search engine optimization. And believe us: it's a full time job. 

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