When is it Time to Redesign Your Website?

website redesign tips

Is your site looking a little out dated? Is it a little rusty? Are you using an old HTML design, and want to upgrade to the sparkly new functionality that a wordpress website can bring you? When your site makes you a little sad to look at it, it’s probably time to redesign your site. From the navigation menu to the colours, all sites can do with a makeover from time to time! But how do you choose the new colour scheme, the new layout, what design is right for your business? The truth is you’re going to need professional website design help to get your site on the right track.

Dancing GIFs? Time to Redesign!

Remember the good old days with those little hard hats and street cones would dance on a page, asking people to excuse the mess, under construction? If your site looks like this, you need to move beyond the old design and create something that will show you’re a modern company that can get the job done. A great design is one of the most important things to establish trust with your audience; it might seem a little shallow, but it’s just the way things are. Don’t neglect the look and layout of your site design, and remember that you need to keep it updated as much as possible.

Has Your Business Changed?

Getting your site updated means that you need to look at how your company has grown over the years! If your business has grown or shrunk, changed the way it does business, or if you are just selling something else now’s the time for you need to redesign your site. Look at the content on your site; does it reflect what kind of business you run now? Do you catch yourself not wanting to show people what your website looks like? These are all great reasons to change it up, but the last one you want to pay attention to is SEO; is your site getting search engine love?

You’re SEO Challenged

SEO is an important thing to keep an eye on; if you’re not getting page views you’re not getting new customers. If you’re not getting new customers, you’re not getting more money coming in, and your website isn’t serving the purpose it was meant to. SEO is important and many old websites just aren’t built for pleasing the search engines. If you use a CMS like wordpress, you already have a leg up on the SEO game. You’ll still want to look around for SEO plugins that will help you get better results, as well as a design with a great navigation system that will help your usability and the indexibility of your site with search engines like Google.

If you catch yourself not liking your website, it’s time to change. From a simple colour redesign to something more drastic, they can all lend you a new sense of credibility that you never knew could come from design!

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

SEO: Where it’s Going and Where it’s Been

SEO History

Understanding SEO starts with its history and with seeing all the changes the search engines and marketers have gone through over the years. From the early days of hidden text at the bottom of the day (now considered black hat SEO) to video marketing and social media marketing, SEO has undergone a lot of changes. Here we’re going to go over the history of SEO so you can understand why the system is what it is today, and why you can’t do certain things without being penalised by Google.

The Beginning

In the beginning, there was Yahoo!, and it was good. Seriously, Yahoo! and a handful of other companies were around, but it all began with Yahoo! (pardon the excessive exclamations, but it was an exciting time). SEO came about by accident when a few marketers were trying to exploit how things worked. This led to the barrage of Viagra search results and tons of porn when looking for innocuous subjects like the “hamster dance”. Yahoo! was easily manipulated, as it used information on the actual pages to rank sites, not its own algorithm; these were the golden days of keyword stuffing to your heart’s content and getting crap sites at the very time. Searchers began complaining, and Yahoo! devised an algorithm.

This algorithm was cracked pretty quick, and they stopped relying on on-page information. This still had open holes with plenty of sites being stolen and used for nefarious purposes like selling fake pharmaceuticals and a bunch of adult products. It was the wild west of marketing, but when the internet met Google….

The Google Age

Google began to create its own ways of organising searches, and so ended the age of indulgence. Instead of using what people had on their pages, Google decided to weigh links against one another. If you had a lot of inbound links (backlinks) coming through to your site from other popular sites, you’ll get higher in the SERPs; outgoing links were also weighted to make sure people weren’t just shifting people towards suspicious sites that would end up ripping them off. Some of the old tricks would work in the early days of Google; people were able to still use little tricks like hidden text and redirects and ghost pages, but after a while Google found ways around it.

Now

Now you can’t get around things like you used to since marketers are much more creative and provide much more value for the attention of their audiences. There are still some people trying to game the system, but with each new update Google steps closer to perfection while the spammers find another hole to use against them. Locked in an epic struggle, Google will always win out; if they can’t provide valuable safe information to the people they’re serving, people will find another search engine that can do the job. Google’s survival depends on staying on top of SEO, and yours is dependent on understanding how the system works.

Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve your SEO goals!

How Domain Authority and PageRank Affect SEO

Building a strong SEO campaign

With this year coming to a close, we’re all looking back and forward trying to figure out what the magic formula for SEO success will be in the coming year. Since the Panda update, there have been many rumours that Google PageRank just doesn’t factor much into where you place in the SERPs (search engine ranks, like the first page of Google), but there’s no proof of this. The most important thing to pay attention to is the authority your domain has, or how Google weights your site in the realm of importance and relevance when it’s running its algorithms. You want Google and other search engines to recognise your site as an authority for what you’re selling or providing to hungry customers so they can find you!

Why is Domain Authority Important?

Getting domain authority takes time; no matter what people tell you, there are no shortcuts to overnight success. People will come to know what you’re about and what you can do for them over time, so don’t rush it. Your authority means you’re going to get a lot of traffic from different sources like social media, search results, and other websites that refer to you. If you can get a high ranking authority site to link to you (especially domains that are .edu) you’ll reap a lot more benefits than if you get many low ranking PR sites kicking people to your site. The quantity of your links isn’t nearly as important as the quality!

How to Get Domain Authority

One of the first things you can do to get domain authority and increase your SEO is to start guest blogging on other authority sites. If you have a lot of knowledge in an area, ask a high ranking site if you can guest blog for them. You can also use article marketing to get the word out; these backlinks will help you build your reputation, but be sure that you know what the PageRank and reputation of the site is before you start submitting. Like everything else, you get better results from better PageRank sites than you do a lot of low ranking ones.

Another thing you can do to get domain authority is to have a good honest reputation; while the road to a positive image can be a long one, it’s best to accomplish this naturally without any cheap tricks. Provide good content that informs and entertains your readers!

How Domain Authority Affects SEO

Trying to figure out the magical formula for SEO success isn’t that hard; show people that you know what you’re doing (authority) and make your domain into a brand. Even sites that don’t actually offer anything tangible besides information (like Google or Facebook) have authority and people look to them for things they need every day. Over time you can build links that will lend you authority with the search engines, and guest blog on other sites so you can get the word out about what you’re offering.

Domain authority is one of the most important things to consider in the upcoming year, so start considering what you can do to lend yourself a better image and sense of authority online.

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

Why Keyword Research is Important for SEO

Keyword Research for SEO

Researching SEO keywords is important; if you don’t know what people are looking for, how will they ever find your website? You can put as many different keywords as you like on your site, but if they’re wrong you’re just wasting time and money, as well as opportunity, on the wrong thing. You only get to talk to your audience after they’ve come to your website, and unless you can get them to take that first step to come to your site, you’re not going to be able to talk to them. Here we’re going to explore what keyword research is, how keywords get researched, and why it’s important to your business!

What is Keyword Research Exactly?

The first thing you do when you’re researching keywords is to look over your competition. Google different sites in your niche, and copy the addresses into a text file; make sure you take note of the ones on the first page and ignore the ones that are on the other pages. Now go use the free Google Adwords tool and put in the URLs for each site, paying close attention to what keywords come up; these are the keywords you want to use! There are more in depth ways of researching keywords with paid software, but you can start with the free ad words tool.

Why is Keyword Research Important?

Aside from the many ways it can increase your business it’s good to understand your audience. If you understand what they’re looking for, you’ll be able to give better service and improve what you’re offering to fit their needs better; rise above the norm and give people what they want! Another thing you need to think about is how much time are you wasting on bad keywords? Keywords are tough, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you’re wasting your time. Sometimes it’s better to find someone who knows what they’re doing rather than spend time trying to compete in a market with the wrong tools.

Another thing to consider is how much money are you spending on bad keywords? Every missed opportunity to share your site with people looking for you is a missed sale, so why not put your time and money into the right keyword research to bring the right people to your site?

Using Keyword Research

After you have keywords you still need to implement them! Start writing articles with good densities that will attract visitors; write or buy content that you would want to read yourself, and you’ll be able to capture the attention of your audience and steer them towards the sale. Google indexes content that’s unique, entertaining and informative, so make sure yours is and you’ll be golden.

When you want to get better search engine rankings, you need to do keyword research. Once you’ve found the right keywords for your niche (category), you can implement them with article marketing, content on your site, and other ways to get noticed.

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

Why Every Business Needs a Website

Everyone needs a website, no matter how big or small their business is. Even if you’re not doing much business online right now, you need that web presence to show people that you’re serious about providing services or products to them. If you have business cards, you’ll be able to put your website URL (address) on your card, and people will be able to go there and check out more about you. It’s a great way to communicate with people who might want your services, it but it’s also a great way to save time without spending a lot of money. If you’re ready to take the leap, keep reading!

Be Professional

A professional website design gives you an edge that you can’t really get anywhere else. A designer can give you an air of sophistication and importance, while in reality you’re not putting forth a lot of effort and energy like you would with phone calls explaining your business or with face to face meetings. Websites allow you to have a conversation with people who might be interested in your business, but weeds out the ones who might just waste your time. You can include contact forms that let people email you with questions, and include contact information like your business phone or mobile number that will help them get a hold of you to ask your more in depth questions about your business.

Save Money and Be More Environmentally Conscious

Instead of printing up brand new brochures every time you need to change prices or what’s offered, you can just update your website. There are millions of mobiles in use right now, and you can take advantage of that! If you run a restaurant, you can give people online menus that are updated constantly with new items and prices without having to print up a ton of menus and waste a lot of money and trees to do it. Go green and reap the benefits of being environmentally conscious with your own small business website!

Find New Clients

Finding new clients and customers in the current economic climate isn’t easy, but you can get a leg up on other local small businesses with the right tools. A website that’s filled with great content and optimised to get search engine love will help you get the new customers you need to survive. Instead of advertising constantly and trying to find more customers who might be interested in your services, you’ll be able to just sit back and have them come to you. If you’re not spending all of your time chasing leads, you’ll be able to focus more time on the things that matter like improving your business’ products and services.

Having your own small business website can improve your odds of survival! With the right design and content, you’ll be able to get a lot more customers coming to you and you’ll be able to give a more professional appearance to your operation.

Why Vector Logo Design is Important

When you’re dealing with a professional logo designer, you will get a vector file. What is a vector though? How do you use them to get a good logo? Are vectors easy to work with? All of these questions might come to mind when you’re getting your logo designed for the first time, but with vectors you’re in the right hands! From the ease of use with scaling them up and down to infinity to the clear clean crisp edges that will communicate who you are and the durability of your brand. It’s amazing how a simple image can say so much about you and your company, but it’s important to get yourself off on the right foot when you’re doing your logo design. Here we’re going to talk about why you need vectors and how you can use them to get ahead!

What is a Vector?

Vectors are basically points plotting on a plane; this means no matter how it’s used in a program, you’ll be able to keep it the same size and won’t suffer any loss in your design. From a tiny little image on your business cards to a gigantic banner on the side of a skyscraper, you’ll be able to communicate your design effectively without the blurring that blowing up a raster image will bring.

Why Are Vectors Important?

Aside from the usual usability arguments, they’re easy to change. Once you’ve hired a designer and they’ve completed your design, you can take this source file and keep it so the next designer can work on it. If you need updating because you had it designed at a time when things were trendy, you’ll be able to have it fixed easy; you can’t say the same thing for a raster image that is already all put together! You really need the flexibility that a vector graphic design gives you, and you’ll always be able to save the output to a jpeg, png or gif (raster) image if you need it. You can’t save a raster as a vector though, so it’s something to keep in mind.

Always Ask for Vectors

When you’re getting the finished product (and even before you start designing your logo), you need to ask your designer if they’re using a vector program like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape to design your logo. These programs give you the vector image, but require a specialised person to create the logo, so vector design is professional design. Anyone with windows paint can make you a cheap and fast design, but to make you a great logo design they need to use a vector program. While they’re working, they’ll send you jpegs, pngs or gifs of your logo so you can see the progress (you won’t be able to open most vector files without special software) but at the end, you should receive a vector file like a .AI file; keep this somewhere safe like a disk or on multiple hard drives in case you need it later.

How to Establish Your Brand Online

While using the internet to build your brand is easier than the alternative 20 years ago, it can still be hard to do. From owning your own domain name to having a social media presence, you can build and establish an online presence that will get you the customers you need to survive online. Here I’ll show you how to establish your brand online in three easy steps!

Get a Domain

If you have a company, use the name of it for your domain name; if you’re just working for yourself or are a consultant etc., you need to use your own name so people can find you online. Most domains are extremely cheap, and you can get them anywhere from $5 to $50 depending on what the TLD (top level domain) is. .TV and .Mobile domains can cost more, but .com, .net and .org are usually on the cheap side and you only have to pay for them once a year.

Once you have a domain, you need to create an email address to tie it all together. When you have business communications with clients and contractors, they need to see what domain is yours and how to contact you. Having your own domain goes a long way to establishing your brand identity online.

Create Your Own Website

You want to present a professional image to people checking out your domain, and to do this you’re going to need a website design. While you might be tempted to get a generic wordpress template and hope for the best, don’t do it! Your website is like your store front, it needs to be appealing to those coming to it and have a clear message and call to action for people to look at. Follow the AIDA principle: attention, interest, desire and action; if you design your site around these principals you’ll be able to get your brand up and running in no time.

Advertise

Advertising your domain is important; put it on all of your emails and printed materials! If people who are buying your products or reading your brochures don’t know your website, how are they going to find it? Advertising isn’t just about paying money and putting banners up on websites; it’s also about using what space you have wisely to communicate with your audience. In the signature of all your emails or forum postings, you need to put your web address so people can find you more. This will also give you backlinks and help get your site higher in the search rankings, so don’t neglect it!

Establishing your brand online can be tough, but it all starts with getting your own domain, having a website and getting the word out about your site, you and what you’re offering. It’s important to define your brand identity before your competition does it for you; work with a professional who knows your business and can help you rise to the top!

Why Search Engine Optimisation Takes Time

There are No Quick Roads to the Front Page

I don’t care what anyone has told you, there are no easy ways to get to the top of the rankings on search engines overnight. If you’re lucky you might have some kind of controversial product, but for most of us it’s going to take time to build our brand identity and trust so people can find us and tell their friends about what we’re offering. You need to understand that all good things take time, and any overnight success can be lost just as quickly.

Cheap, Fast, or Good

The contractor triangle states that you can have two points on the triangle, but not all three; if you want something cheap and fast it won’t be good, and if you want something cheap and good it won’t be fast. The same goes for your SEO campaign; you can hire someone on the cheap to get your rankings up fast, but it won’t stick and what good does that do you? When you’re trying to get the best, you need to put money, time and effort into it. If you can’t do this yourself, you need to seriously consider hiring an SEO consultant who spends all of their time crafting campaigns that will drive the right people to your website.

Consultant or Employee?

Figuring out which one you want to use is important; if you can’t hire any inside or outside help, you might have to do it yourself. A consultant can be someone you find online who can help you get the job done, or you might want to reassign a member of your current team to marketing. Whoever you get to do it, they need to be competent; if it’s you, learn more about marketing and make space in your budget to get the job done right.

Why Does SEO Take so Much Time?

Organic SEO is the right way to do it, but building your reputation and getting noticed by Google takes time. The first step is always back linking, and while you might think you can deploy a million different links to as many sites, this won’t build the SEO you want. By doing your SEO wrong, you could even end up hurting your site’s rankings with Google, so make sure you do it right the first time!

When doing backlinks, look around at what sites you’re commenting and linking from. Are they high page ranking sites, and are you leaving good relevant content in return (great forum comments, good blog comments that aren’t generic, etc.) that will make the site approve your comments or links? Google will weight what backlinks you have all over the internet against you, so make sure that they’re with good sites and that you build your SEO over time, not all in one go.

Building organic SEO is the key to winning online with your internet marketing strategies; you’ll get better results with a long-term campaign instead of a short one, so gauge your choices wisely.

Internet Marketing Strategies for 2012

With 2011 coming to a close it’s time to start looking to the future. What will your internet marketing strategy for 2012 be? Do you know the latest trends to get attention and new business? How do you get noticed by Google? To stay competitive in today’s marketing, you’re going to have to employ all kinds of wizardry like social media, video marketing and even hiring affiliates who can help you spread the good word about what you’re offering. Here we’re going to go over the different ways you can promote your site, and how you can implement it into your marketing plan.

Giveaways

You don’t have to physically give away your products, but you do need to sweeten the pot a little! Think about free reports and e-books that will get people in the door, and move them towards the sale. With the world economy like it is, people will be more likely to buy with you if they have already seen a preview of what you can give them. Never underestimate the value of free stuff! When they sign up for reports, have them join your email list so you can send email blasts

Get Noticed

Backlinks are the chief way to get noticed online, but are you covering all of your bases? Every SEO blog out there is telling you to leave comments on blogs and forums, but there are article directories to use too! When you have commenters working on your backlinks, always create relative and informative comments that will get approved; don’t incite the ire of angry webmasters reporting your site to blacklists by leaving generic comments like “I like this site but this (link) has more information about the topic you might find interesting!” Article directories like EzineArticles and Associated Content along with blogs like Tumblr give you good links that will help with your article marketing strategies.

Use Social Media

Social media is quickly becoming the drug of choice for everyone from the young looking for great fashion to grandmothers trying to reconnect with old high school friends. Using video marketing to creative interactive content is a great step, as well as having a Twitter and Facebook Fan Page so people can leave you comments and ask questions.  People want that next level of interaction that social media gives them, so be sure to take full advantage to reach new audiences for free!

Affiliates

You only pay affiliates when they get you a sale; these are highly motivated sellers who know what they’re doing, and know how to target your audience to get them to buy. By using affiliate marketers, you’ll save time and money without having to spend more than you normally would on advertising.

Switch up how you’re marketing now, and in 2012 you’ll bring your company to the next level! Why spend time and money that you don’t have on ineffective campaigns, when you can use a multi-pronged strategy that’s proven to work?

5 Golden Rules to Logo Design

Every logo design needs to be formulated for maximum appeal, but how do you know what the best design practices are and if you’re doing right? There are no definite rules for logo design, but there are little things you should observe to make sure you get the best reaction to your logo! Here we’re going to talk about what you need to do to have a great logo, and what you shouldn’t do too! Let’s get started.

Durability

Your logo needs to stand the test of time, so that means you don’t need to use any gimmicks (remember all those out dated glossy web 2.0 logos that no one cares about now?) to make your logo. You need to make sure it communicates who you are in the plainest term possible, without falling into the usual traps of trying to be trendy.

Uniqueness

It’s good to take the lead from other logos in your niche, but you don’t want to copy them to try and copy their success or relate to their customers. You want to make sure that your logo shows who you are without being too overt. A unique logo shows people who you are, and it gives you the ability to really stand out from the crowd.

Usability

Usability of a logo is important; being able to scale your logo up and down for different uses like business cards, website banners, giant signs and advertising is extremely important. The colours you choose for your logo will also lend to its usability, so keep that in mind. How you’re going to use your logos should be taken into consideration before you stick with just one for the whole design, so you can create a sense of brand consistency.

Colours

Colours are also an extremely important factor in how you choose your final logo design. The best designs will be two or three colours, and you can pick some that complement one another and others that contrast. It’ll all depend on what kind of design and business you need to communicate to your audience. When choosing your colour palette, look at others in your area of business to see how they communicate effectively and stay memorable with colour.

Vectors

If you’re commissioning a logo, you will want it in vector format and not raster. Vectors allow you to scale up and down for any need, and the shape and colour will always stay the same. Vectors are basically just math points plotted on a plane, and they’re the standard for any smart designer who knows what they’re doing. Always get your logos in vector format!

Now you know the important things to look out for when having your logos designed! You want something that’s going to last for a long time to establish brand consistency, a unique design that makes you stand out, something that will be memorable and of course the right colours and the right design that will make it all pop.

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