Keys to Building an Effective Website

effective website design

We all want to win online; from driving sales of products and services to getting your ideas and opinions out there, you need an effective website to get results. But what is an effective website, and how do you make yours fit the mould? Here we’ll talk about what makes a website effective, how to structure your website for success, and of course how to avoid failure with a few quick steps.

What is an Effective Website?

The difference between effective websites and ineffective websites is pretty simple: effective websites make a profit, the others just don’t. When you’re looking at your website, trying to figure out how it’s effective, look for:

Calls to Action

When you first go to a website, you see offers, things to sign up for, articles telling you about what you should buy, etc. These are known as “calls to action” and they help your visitors understand what you’re selling and what you want them to do. You can have the prettiest site design ever, but if you don’t have a call to action your website will be useless.

Contact Information

On every page there should be a form to contact you, an email address, something that tells people how to respond to your call of action. You don’t have to plaster your page with Adweber forms, but you do need to have something there that helps people get a hold of you! If you do business over the phone (especially helpful for ecommerce sites when people don’t want to submit their credit card information online) you need to make sure your toll free numbers are in the sidebar and visible on every page.

Good SEO Practices

  • Every site needs optimised SEO; no matter what you’re selling, without the right SEO strategy your site won’t be indexed by the search engines. You can do a quick few tweaks to make sure your site is on the right track like:
  • Does your Page have a Title in the Tab? If so, it needs to be what keyword you’re targeting for search engines!
  • If you’re using a completely Flash site, you need to get a site redesign; flash isn’t able to be indexed by search engines properly and will cost you in the SERPs!
  • Look over your content; is it geared towards your niche and what they’re looking for? How often are your keywords mentioned in each article? Are your articles well written, entertaining and informative? If you’re not good at writing, consider hiring someone who knows SEO who can get the job done for you.

What is your Website Design like?

Every site needs to look a certain way that excites viewers’ interests, keeps them on the page, and makes the site easy to search and navigate. Optimising your design can be as easy as a few tweaks to a complete overhaul, it will just depend on how much updating you need.

Go through this checklist and see where you’re at, then start implementing the changes to make your own website design effective. Always remember, having an effective website is the key to getting sales and keeping customers!

Contact us today to learn how we can help create an effective website for your business!

3 More Common SEO Mistakes

SEO Services

You’ll find tons of guides online about how you should optimise your website, but how many out there teach you what you shouldn’t do? Knowing what not to do with your content and search engines will help you avoid the perils and pitfalls of upsetting Google and getting banned, as well as save you time and money by being effective. Using too much SEO is just as bad as using too little and spamming forums and blogs will only get you penalized; here I’m going to show you everything you need to avoid doing to keep your website on the search engines and to increase your ranking.

Overdoing and Underdoing Your SEO

It’s amazing, but you can use too much and too little search engine optimisation to the point that Google will just think you’re trying to game the system. Using keyword densities higher than 5% for example will (especially after the latest Panda update) in most cases get you penalised and drop your ranking. If you use too little, or less than 1% density, you won’t get indexed properly. There are many free keyword density tools out there that will help you know if you’re doing it wrong, use them!

Choosing the Wrong Keywords

Finding the right keywords for your niche that aren’t as competitive can be hard; you’ll need to use Google’s Adwords tool to find good ones. Sadly, sometimes you can’t find the right ones that will drive people to your page, or won’t drive the right people who will convert to sales. In the case of keywords, you will want to get an expert who can find the right ones for you! Craft your content around the right keywords and you’ll see your page rank jump!

Getting Banned

Getting banned from Google or other search engines is the worst thing you can do to your online reputation. We’re all tempted to use cheap and dirty tricks to get better ratings, but those never pay off in the long run. When you upset the search engines, you’ll have to start all over again with another website and hope that you don’t repeat those same mistakes again. One of the most popular ways of getting banned is link spamming; link spamming is when you abuse forum and blog comments to try and get a higher PageRank for your site, but your comments don’t add any value to the conversation.

Comments like:

  • “I really enjoyed this article and will come back again!”
  • “This is really informative, but if you want to learn more you should go to www. link to learn more.”

These kinds of comments could be posted to any blog about anything, and are the stuff that webmasters hate looking at the most in their comment moderation. Enough people block or ban you Google is going to take notice. Don’t push forums and bloggers to ban you and Google won’t push back. If you’re confused, get an SEO consultant who can help you figure out what you need to do to avoid these common SEO mistakes.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you avoid costly SEO mistakes!

The Four Keys to a Great Logo Design

Everyone wants a great logo that just pops off the page and screen, but how do you get that? What makes a logo great, and how can you make yours? Logos are the first thing people see about your company or organisation, and you need to put your best foot forward. Setting aside traditional concerns like the cost of a logo or other things we might think are important; a logo should always follow the four rules of great logo design:

Simplicity

Simple Logo design

Can you think of one logo that’s famous and complicated? Even the swirly font of Coca-Cola betrays its simplicity and elegance of design. You want something that’s easy to recognise, easy to remember, and of course is just plain simple! You’ll want to trim anything that detracts from the message of your logo like too many colors, extra design elements that detract from the center, and just make it look cluttered in general. Simple is king in logo design, so examine your current logo or if you’re creating your logo for the first time, look around at others and see how simplicity really brings your brand to the next level.

Durability

durable Logo design

The durability of your logo is one of the most important things to consider in your design. While some companies successfully relaunch their brand every decade, many don’t survive the backlash and confusion that a new logo can produce! Your logo needs to be able to march through time untarnished, still as memorable as the day it premiered. While you might have to do some facelifts from time to time, the basic design should remain the same so people can recognise it. Look around at logos like McDonald’s that have remained the same over the last 50 years to see what durability can do for your brand.

Versatility

versatile Logo design

Logos don’t just go out onto your website design and business cards, later on when your brand expands, your logo needs to be able to go onto all manner of products without being loud and intrusive, but it needs to be visible and recognisable. You need to be able to use your logo for everything, and that’s why versatility of designs is so important. Can your current logo fit the bill?

Usefulness

useful Logo design

The usefulness of a logo expands from products to communications (email blasts, business letters, websites, etc.) Can you use this beyond your website? An animated logo in flash might be really cool for your website, but until virtual paper gets invented it’s not going to really do anything on a plain page. Will your logo work just on a white background, or will it work with other colors? These are things you have to think about when you’re designing your logo.

Your logo is the first thing people see when they come across your company or organisation; you want your logo to be simple and recognisable, as well as versatile towards a large array of implementations and durable to stand the test of time. Your logo is your handshake, and how you present yourself is how people will perceive you.

Contact us today to find out how we can create the perfect logo for your business!

Why Backlinks are Important for SEO

backlinks article

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a complicated system of getting the search engines to notice you without getting them angry. While keyword densities are important, backlinks are just as important to any SEO campaign! Here we’re going to talk about how to use backlinks, what they are and why they’re important for bringing your business to the next level.

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks are any links from another site, hopefully a high PageRank site, that link back to your own website. The general saying is the more backlinks the better your PageRank becomes, but this isn’t always true. You want to aim for high ranking sites with relevant information pushing people to your site. Backlinks can come from forums, blogs, other websites who do small link exchanges, video sites like YouTube and daily motion, podcasts and article directories that allow you to do article marketing through them. These are just a handful of the ways you can backlink, but with research you can find even more!

How Backlinks Work

Backlinks work like this:

  • You post a comment on a blog or forum for example, and post a relevant link to the current conversation.
  • When Google crawls this website, it will see your link. It will analyse the page to see how relevant the link is to the conversation, and then it will crawl your site.
  • Google analyses your own site to see what quality of content and links you have, and it will weight it compared with other links coming into your page and other links coming out from your page to see where you rank, known as PageRank.
  • If your efforts are successful, you get a better PageRank for that keyword! If they fail, you fall further behind.

Why Backlinks are Important for SEO

You can’t build your SEO campaign on one method alone; anyone who tells you otherwise is being disingenuous. You need to spread your efforts evenly over different methods like diverse backlinking and advertising, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds! Backlinks are the building blocks of any good SEO effort, so you’ll want to focus on getting good backlinks as opposed to a lot of bad ones.

Getting Good Backlinks

Getting good backlinks comes down to a couple things:

  • What is the PageRank of the site you’re using for backlinks? If they’re a high PageRank site, you’ll want to have high quality relevant comments and articles linking out (and good content on your end to back it up). If they’re a low PageRank site, you can have more generalised comments but you’ll still want to try and be relevant.
  • How much are you devoting to a specific keyword? Never dedicate more than 25% of your efforts to a single keyword, or you might get banned or penalised by Google.

Backlinks are important, but use them wisely! If you’re posting on forums or blogs, don’t pester them with spam or you’ll just get banned altogether. Bring quality and you’ll get quality in return!

Contact us today to find out how we can you with your SEO goals!

3 Big Website Design Mistakes

website mistakes

The Worst 3 Design Mistakes to Avoid

When you’re trying to create a great website to drive visitors to buy what you’re selling, you might make a few mistakes along the way. While you might think that theme design is the most important thing to focus on, there are three other elements that need attention before you launch your website, or when you’re redesigning it. Let’s get started!

Bad Content

Content is just as much a design issue as layout or navigation. You content must fit your website, and it needs to be interesting. Look at how your content is presented on the page, do the titles for the posts look like they belong with the rest of the site, or is it some funky neat text that looks out of place? Is your content broken up with pictures, video and other media, or is it just a long scrolling screen of text? To make your website more attractive and easier on the eyes of your visitors, it needs to be broken up into consumable little bits that make it easy for people to understand what you’re saying. Look at some of your favorite sites to see how they present information and how you can incorporate some of those ideas for your site.

Layout

Layout is one of the most important things you need to work on, no matter what products or services you’re selling. One of the worst mistakes in small business website design are the “cluttered” designs that seem to try and pack everything a company wants to put forward on a single page; you don’t have to put everything on the front page to get indexed by Google, and you could end up confusing or frustrating people who land on your website trying to find the right information. Clean uncluttered layouts are the best way to go for any business, so break your layout into different areas (like the pages feature on wordpress) for better ease of use.

Navigation

Navigation is also an important part of the good design puzzle; you want to make the navigation of your website clean and easy so people can find what they’re looking for. “How can you have bad navigation?” you might ask, since navigation is a pretty straight forward concept. Many people get tripped up with subpages and things like that, but the best thing to do with implementing a navigation system is to, like content, break them into little pieces that relate to one another. Never have more than ten subcategories or subpages in a single category; this will prevent you from cluttering your navigation to the point where it runs off the page and people can’t even find what they’re looking for.

These are just a few of the design mistakes any small business needs to avoid to stay competitive and drive sales online. Look at competitors in your niche and see how they do it, so you can adopt their best design practices and toss aside the ones that just don’t work.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your website design!

Backlink Diversity and SEO

backlinks

What Are Backlinks and how do they apply to SEO?

For the uninitiated, backlinks are the way that search engines determine the relevancy of a given site. Say you’re selling t-shirts, and you have some forum links or blog comments about where to get a certain shirt. It will analyze the site it’s on (for keywords and page rank), relevancy and the site it links to. If you have links on high PR sites that are high quality, it will push you to the top. If you have tons of links on sites that are low PR or on the blacklist for spam, it will count them against you. Understanding how backlinks work in the new wild world  of search engine optimization after the Panda Update is something you have to figure out to be successful online.

Are Backlinks Not Allowed?

The best part of any SEO campaign are backlinks; you can’t avoid creating them, but they have to be quality backlinks from QUALITY sites, so you can’t keep going through cheap article marketing sites that offer little value online. You’ll want to avoid anything that has a low PR to use for incoming backlinks to your site or business, that’s how the algorithm works. This means avoiding low ranking article directories, link farms or anyone on Google’s personal hit list. This does make marketing online a little harder, but it is doable and to grow your business in the future you’ll be able reap the benefits of diverse backlinks with organic SEO.

Creating Diverse Backlinks

  • First you need to know what diverse backlinks are:
  • Article marketing
  • Blog and forum comments and signatures
  • Press releases and advertising
  • Social Network Backlinks

These are the quick sources of quality backlinks that will help you build good organic traffic. The key is to spread them out equally through the methods, and not favour one over another. It’ll keep you safe from Google’s wrath, and you’ll have to make sure that you don’t use a keyword more than 25% of the time an inbound link points to your site. This is the way you can get around the crazy new Panda rules that are tanking websites left and right.

Understanding How to Weight Your Backlinks

When the page rank of a site is low, you won’t need to worry about quality but you will need to make sure you’re being relevant. On a high page rank site, you’ll want to worry about the quality of the site and of your comments, or you’ll get the ban hammer from Google. This means no more junk comments or bad articles floating out in the wild or not paying attention to what the page rank of a site is. Always do your research when you’re promoting on your site and services online and you’ll be able to avoid the pitfalls of the Panda Update when back linking for exposure.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your business realize your potential with effective search engine optimization!

Social Media in Online Marketing

social media

The Importance of Social Media in Marketing Online

When formulating your online marketing campaign, you’ll think about what backlinks you need, all of the content you’re going to create targeted at your niche, and maybe even how much you need to sink into your online banner/sidebar ads. One thing many overlook is one of the most bountiful and affordable sources of advertising on the internet: social network and social media marketing. When you advertise on social media networks through Facebook pages, twitter and more specialized niche markets you reach your audience faster than ever before and they share links and news about your company with their friends FOR FREE. Here we’re going to go over the different ways you can utilise social media for your online marketing campaign and search engine optimization and why you should use it.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is extending a hand towards an already INTERSTED market who wants your products; you’ll be able share news, information and promotions instantaneously, allowing your audience to respond and share like never before. This cuts out a big part of the cost of advertising online, since you won’t have to run around trying to hook visitors and readers into investing in your product. 

How Social Media Benefits Your Company

No matter what you’re selling online, you can get a solid benefit from advertising on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. It may require a little more upkeep than other forms of advertising like banners and sidebars, but you’ll get a greater return on this time investment. People every day are searching for products, businesses and services that they need; position yourself with a pristine online presence that will boost your company for years to come.

How to Get Started with Social Media

The first step is to make a Facebook page (not account!) so people can like you; every time someone likes something on Facebook, that goes into their feed and all of their friends and family will see it and check it out. The “like” habits on Facebook are pretty haphazard; a page about “being afraid of the dark when you were four” can have 20 million likes while a corporate page for Chevron could have 10,000 likes. It’s all about how you present yourself, and how catchy and interesting you are in the first few seconds after the page loads.

Twitter is another popular social media option; you’re restricted to 140 characters (including your links) to get the word out, but you’ll be able to tweet as frequently as you need to and interact with your customers and others who have questions and feedback about your company. Ten years ago you couldn’t pay for this kind of information from your real market, and now you can get it for free.

Like many things, you need to know what you’re doing when you dip your toes in the water of social media; this means you need a consultant to help you create a brand identity online, go after the right audience and understand how to talk to your market. Whichever way you choose to go about it, social media marketing isn’t going anywhere, and to be competitive you need to embrace it!

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your Social Media Marketing and SEO needs!

The Importance of a Consistent Brand Identity

brand identity

Your Name is Your Brand, You Need to Be Consistent

We all know that saying “Your name is your brand”, but what does that mean for your business and your brand identity? How can you stay with the times without having to constantly redesign yourself, while keeping your audience and making sure your customers know who you are no matter how much you change through the years? What’s great today might be awful tomorrow, and you never know what’s around the corner. Here we’re going to talk about the importance of a consistent brand identity, how you can create the right brand for you that will carry you through time and establish your presence in your market. Let’s get started!

Consistency Makes the Cake

Think of your marketing and brand efforts like a cake, if you don’t make sure everything is blended enough the cake will be lumpy; it’s important to keep everything as close to each other (your website, your social media campaigns, your mainline advertising) as possible This helps your customers and audience identify with your brand, know what to expect from you, and of course how to spot you in the big wide ocean online.

The Message is the Media or How Being Online Flips Things Upside Down

Recently the New York Times has had to overhaul its business model with blogs and media, but they still retain their brand affiliation with their audience. If you’re branching out onto YouTube, for example, you can interact with your audience like never before you need to take note of what you started out as and keep to that ideal. If you’re selling personalised onesies to expectant mothers or razor blades you need to stay with the original message and product, while trying to keep up with the online market. Social media, print media and advertising all need to meld together to give the wide impression that it has longevity and that it stands for this or that.

Protect Your Brand

Being consistent helps you avoid the pitfalls of others following in your footsteps; if you can prove that you’ve been doing things the same way, customers will trust you more and won’t fall for the cheap tricks that upstarts can pull. Brand identity helps your customers know it’s you, no matter how you change throughout the years. Why should you have to worry about someone coming along and using all of your hard work against you, when you have had a long term relationship with your audience that helps them identify who the real “you” is, and who it’s not?

Brand identity and consistency is important, no matter what you are dealing in. When you’re working online or offline, you need that presence that reassures your audience just who you are, what you’re about and where you’re going. This keeps you from walking the tightrope of being the new kid on the block forever, and builds your brand to withstand the test of time. Figuring out how to be consistent with your brand can be difficult, but with the right consultants you can!

 

Contact us today to see how we can help build you a consistent brand identity!

The Importance of Fonts in Logo Design

Every company is unique, and creating the right brand identity for advertising online and offline is an important step to cementing your presence. How do you figure out what logo  is right for you, and what font really represents what your company stands for. Selecting the right font can be hard, and that’s why you should always work with a graphic designer who has experience with a wide range of logos and business (and brand creation helps too!) to make sure you get the best representation of your company possible. Here, we’ll be showing you what fonts work with what kinds of businesses in general, and what you need to have a logo design that helps people recognize who you are and what you do.

Serif and Sans Serif

serif font example

Serif fonts are solid and beautiful, giving you an air of sophistication; think of the New York Times, the headline font for it is a Serif font that really grabs your attention. Great for news organizations and others who want to appear sturdy and timeless, you’ll be able to establish yourself to last through the ages with this kind of font. Sans Serif are more simple than their Serif counterparts and impart a plain matter of fact look that gives you an approachability and more modern feel than plain Serif fonts. If you want to pop on the page, Sans Serif helps.

 

Scripts and Handwriting

logo example

Scripts are just what they say, calligraphy fonts that have that extra touch that gives you a sophistication and elegance that people crave. If you’re in the business of selling opulence, script fonts are a great companion for your brand. These are great for logo design and such, but you don’t want to use them in all of your materials. They’re there to give you a touch of beauty, not an overpowering feel that frightens people away. Handwriting fonts are also pretty easy, they’re handwriting! Here you’ll get the more personal touch with recognisability that helps people identify with your brand, as well as easy to read (the best are plain and a little quirky) so your audience knows what they’re looking at. For a light hearted personal feel, you’ll love a handwriting font for your logo.

Modern

Modern type, like Helvetica and others, give you a beautiful, easy and minimalistic way to communicate with your audience in a single image or word. Look at Apple’s font; it was considered a little futuristic in the beginning, but now you’ll see that many other companies have taken their lead and it’s more commonplace. If you want to show people you’re ahead of the game with a clear clean crisp design, modern fonts are the right way to go.

These are just a few popular fonts that people use to communicate with people online and offline, and there are many more that might be suitable for your business or your logo. You’ll need to hire a professional who can help you determine what logo is right for you and more importantly what font is right for your business.

Contact us today to learn how we can help find the right font and right logo design for you!

What Does SEO Friendly Mean Anyways?

seo services

We all want to be number one in the SERPs (search engine ranking position) but it can be hard to figure out just what the search engines want when they’re indexing pages. The first step to getting to the top is to have an SEO friendly website design, but what is SEO (search engine optimzation) and how do you make your website SEO friendly? Here you’ll learn everything you need to know and then some. Let’s get started!

What is SEO?

Before you can be SEO friendly, you need to know what SEO is:

Search Engine Optimisation helps people find your website; the content will be good and clean that will help visitors know what your website has on it, how relevant it is to search terms, and if it’s actually any good. The right SEO strategy will help you rise in the search rankings, as well as get the word out about what you’re offering. If you’ve ever done a search, you know how important it is to be on the first page (how often do any of us search beyond that first page?). Now that you know what SEO is, now it’s time to learn how your site can be more SEO friendly.

What is SEO Friendly?

When designing your site from the ground up, or redesigning your existing site, you want to make sure it’s making it on to the search engines and getting the audience you need to be successful online. This means using a CMS like WordPress that gives you that ability to customize the site with a full range of SEO options like tags, categories and enhanced Meta data. The better your SEO is, the more friendly it is to search engines who come knocking looking for information. You’ll also want great interesting and informative content that will be relevant to people looking for what you offer (purple Halloween wigs for example), so they’ll find you when they’re looking.

How to be SEO Friendly

The first thing you need to do is to check over how your pages are categorised and using tags, or keywords, to help people find you. If you don’t know what your keywords are, you’ll need to hire an SEO company to help you understand your niche, your audience and how to bring more people in. Once you have keywords, you can start putting out content that’s relevant. Think of your website like a main street store; people might pass by it every once in a while, but unless you advertise and have things in the windows no one will ever know you’re there.

If you have an existing website that is having a hard time getting results, consider having it overhauled to make sure you do! While this might cost a little in the short run, in the long run you’ll reap the rewards of having a site that is SEO friendly. More people will find you, you’ll rise in relevancy for search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, and you’ll start reaching the audience you need to survive and thrive.

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you achieve your online SEO goals!