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helpful info for our clients

site-image website design blog - helpful info for our clients

Website Trends 2014 and Your Business

website trends 2014

Website design is going flat; this trend is being driven by Microsoft Windows 8, Apple’s iOS 7, and Google amongst many others. Gone are the glossy buttons, drop shadows, heavy graphics, etc. The new trends are flat, simple buttons and icons, a focus on text, images only as needed, and responsive layout that adapts to different browsers and devices.

Responsive websites adjust the layout and function automatically to the width of the device. It is much like a grid of blocks which move based on the width of available space. In combination with this responsive design trend, there is flexible navigation based on the device type, and content which expands to the full width of the browser

Mobile-only websites are a fast-growing trend. Mobile sites, usually created as a complement to an existing site, are great for providing quick info, directions, and features like a click-to-call button. The goal of mobile sites are most often immediate sales or contact conversions. Mobile-only websites are especially good for
service-related industries.

Having both a responsive website and a mobile site creates a win-win web presence.

Continuing to gain more of the web-world are Content-Management System (CMS) websites like WordPress, which is currently powering 19% of the world’s websites. These sites make it easy to create and update business-related content. They can also act as a blogging platform making the site more content-rich, which helps drive search traffic to the site. These sites can also be developed using responsive design

7 questions to ask yourself about your website’s visual look

  • Is my home page visually compelling?
  • Does my website lead visitors to want to learn more about my
    business?
  • Is it visually consistent with my company’s branding?
  • Is it easy to navigate? Can first time visitors easily find the information they need?
  • Does my site look out-of-date?
  • Does my website use Flash for videos or a slideshow?
    (If yes, you need a redesign because Flash won’t play on iPhones and iPads.)
  • Does it look good on all types of devices: desktop, laptop, tablet,
    and smartphone?
  • Does it integrate with my social media marketing such as
    Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pintrest?

7 questions to ask yourself about your website’s content

  • Is my website meeting the needs of my customers and, is it positively connecting with those whom I want to reach as new customers?
  • Does my website tell what is unique and special about my business, setting it above the competition?
  • Is the content relevant, informative, and targeted to promoting my business?
  • Is the content well-organized and is there enough information (but not too much)?
  • Is it consistent with my company’s marketing efforts?
  • Is the text organized and written with search keywords (SEO) in mind?
  • Am I sharing my business’ success by having customer reviews on my site and in social media? Last year, consumers’ trust of online reviews has risen to 70%. Television, newspaper, and magazines “trust rank” is about 47%.

Need help with your website?

With your answers to the questions above, we can address what type of website you need, whether it is informational, interactive, mobile, responsive, blog, or ecommerce.
Visit our Home page or Contact us today to talk about your website needs.

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A Common Keyword Research Mistake

A Common Keyword Research Mistake

Writing by Nick Stamoulis, Brick Marketing

Depending on the industry your website operates in and the content on your site, there might be hundreds of keywords that you could target with your onsite SEO. Best practice dictates that you only target 2-5 keywords per page, which means you’ll have to get picky. Even if your keyword research was on the right track, you might miss the mark when it comes time to choosing the most appropriate keywords for your site and your SEO goals. One of the most common keyword research mistakes I see is that site owners don’t choose keywords that are specific enough for their website. They are still in the right ballpark, but they didn’t take it all the way and are missing out on valuable SEO opportunities.

Let’s say your company offers B2B lead generation services. Obviously, keywords like “lead generation,” “b2b lead generation” and “lead generation company” are going to be incorporated into your site on various pages. However, these keywords are so broad that you might run into a few issues in your quest to improve your organic SEO. First and foremost, the broader the keyword the larger a search volume it will have, which means more companies are competing for that keyword. This makes it much harder to rank well in the search engines.

Secondly, broad keywords like “lead generation,” while they could potentially drive a lot of traffic to your site, they might not be sending the RIGHT traffic to your site. What kind of lead gen services does your company actually offer? Live telephone leads? Online leads? Do you specialize in a particular niche like real estate or finance? Those broad keywords might accurately reflect your business, but chances are there are quite a few long tail keywords that are even more appropriate.

Why is it so important to target those long tail keywords? Site owners often ask me why they should target a keyword that only gets 250 searches a month when they could target one that gets 2,500 searches. The answer is simple—those long tail keywords are going to bring a more targeted visitor to your site. Someone searching for “lead generation” could be looking for a multitude of things and might not be ready to buy anytime soon. Broad keywords are typically used when visitors are still in their research mode and are “shopping around.” However, if someone found your website after searching for “b2b live lead phone transfers,” chances are they know exactly what they are looking for and are looking to make a purchasing decision soon. You might only get 10 visitors each month by targeting “b2b live lead phone transfers,” but they are a much more targeted and highly qualified visitor.

Would you rather get more visitors or more qualified leads? The keywords you target are going to dictate the kind of searchers that find your site. By incorporating long tail keywords into your site you’ll get better traffic, not just more. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can only target keywords with a large search volume. While it is important to incorporate broad keywords into your site’s content, don’t forget to add those long tail keywords!

Local SEO Guidelines to Remember

Writing by Brick Marketing

If people are looking for a local business these days, they don’t turn to the Yellow Pages. They head for the search engines and type in the service, product, or kind of establishment that they are looking for in addition to the location that they are in. While the search engines continue to improve their personalized results and often can guess where someone is located, a typical searcher will still type in “hairstylist in X location” or “X location hairstylist”. If your website isn’t optimized for local search, it won’t be found in the search engines, and you will lose out on business to competitors. Here are 4 guidelines for local business owners to remember when optimizing a website:

Read more at Brick Marketing

Videos On Your Website

Want to show off something about your business? Video is a great way to do it.
Aside from the common advice about, make it high quality, think twice before doing your own commercials, etc., the best way to put a video on your site is by using YouTube as embedded content. Not only is it guaranteed to have the broadest compatibility, but it is also another part of a great marketing plan.

Read more about YouTube marketing for small businesses at Mashable:
6 Best Practices for Small Business YouTube Marketing

Developing a Social Media Strategy That Works

Developing a Social Media Strategy That Works, by Brick Marketing Blog

While businesses know that they need to have a social media presence, they often struggle with using the medium. It’s hard to measure ROI, and with no hard data, it’s difficult to justify the time and resources. Social media is a long term strategy that helps to build brand awareness and online visibility over time. Businesses truly need to understand the nature of social media before implementing a strategy.

Here are 5 important guidelines to follow:

Join the Right Networks
Obviously there are the big social networking giants like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ but there are also hundreds of smaller social networking sites, some of which cater to a specific niche. And you can’t forget about social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon or Digg. It can be overwhelming. The key is to be active on the social networks that your target audience is actually using. Do some research. If you find that one or two networks consume the majority of your target audience’s time, then you know where to spend yours.

Remain Active
Social media will only be beneficial if you dedicate time to it every day. Merely setting up an account and having an “if I build it, they will come” mentality won’t get you very far. It’s important to build up your social media following and this takes an effort on your part.

Have a Conversation
Social media should not be used like traditional advertising. It’s not another place to sell. Social media is about being, you guessed it- social! Interact with fans and followers. As long as you are willing to listen, they will be willing to provide valuable feedback that can improve your business.

Share Content and Links
In order to get social media followers to take action, you need to get them over to your website. Include links in your posts that will drive traffic. Sometimes you just need to tell your followers what you want them to do in order for them to do it. Include call to actions and links to valuable information. You can’t assume that they will go finding it themselves.

Encourage Sharing
The more people that see your content, the better. Social media is meant for sharing. While it’s important to share your own content, a goal should be to get followers to share it as well. This will increase your visibility and reach and improve your social signals for SEO purposes. Make it easy for people to share by including share buttons on all of your blog posts and other published content.

SEO: A 3-Step Program

Writing by Brick Marketing in SEO

Sometimes it seems like almost anything can be done in “3 easy steps” these days. Losing weight, building a business, earning extra income, getting over an ex, and the list goes on and on. SEO can also be categorized as a 3 step program, but it certainly isn’t easy. In order to find SEO success, all three steps must be carried out efficiently. No one step is more important than the other.

Step #1- Research
Like any marketing campaign, you need a good research-based foundation. Just “winging it” never works out well. For starters, you need to understand your audience and their behaviors both online and off. An SEO campaign is built to attract search engine spiders, but the search engines are only the messengers of information to the target audience. If you aren’t sending the right message you can’t expect the campaign to result in increased traffic or visitors to your site. In order to get a better understanding of how your target audience searches, you must do keyword research. Targeting the wrong keywords in an SEO campaign will result in missing out on potential clients or customers. You also need to have an accurate understanding of who your competition is in the online space based on geographic and business size factors. Find out what your competitors are doing online. Remember, just because they are doing it doesn’t mean that you should too, but it may provide some good insights.

Step #2- On-Site Optimization
Once keyword research has been done for every page of a website, it’s time to incorporate these keywords naturally into the content on the page and the meta tags. Read each page of content and add keywords where they fit. Don’t just stuff them in there in a way that doesn’t make sense. The title tag is the clickable link that should describe what is on the page in 70 characters or less. The meta tag description also describes what is on the page, but you have a little more real estate to work with since the description can be up to 150 characters. The description is the snippet that is seen underneath the title on a search engine results page so it should persuade a person to click on the link. The H1 tag, or headline, is the first crawlable text on the page. If the page includes images, use image tags, since the search engines can’t “see” the image. Each meta tag that is used on the page should be unique. For example, the title tag and meta description tag shouldn’t be the same.

Step #3- Link Building
A well optimized site isn’t enough to get search engine spider recognition these days. The search engines rank sites well that are trusted and a good indicator of trust is the number of inbound links that the site has. Link building is an ongoing campaign to build brand visibility and improve a link portfolio over time. In order to build links, you need to create content that can be linked to. Types of content to create include articles, blog posts, blog comments, social media posts, videos, press releases, and online profiles. As time goes on your content will get noticed by target audience members. If it’s any good (which it must be!), it will be linked to naturally by others.