There are LOADS of companies you can hire who make grandiose promises about site hits and where you’ll land in Google search results.
Some of those companies use “Black Hat” (ie: negative) techniques which can get you blacklisted by search engines – effectively the opposite of what you’re looking for. So how do you know who is reputable? What’s the best way forward?
Here are some tips:
- If you get an email from a company you’ve never heard of promising something too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. If it was that easy to have huge success, EVERYONE would be hugely successful. Also, if that company was as good as they say, they probably wouldn’t have to reach out to you out of the blue to drum up business. You’ll want a recommendation from someone you know, or at least a company that has great reviews on which you can follow up.
- It’s possible to get your site on the front page of Google, or visited by thousands of “people” but are these relevant metrics? If you’re on the front page of Google for a term that few people search for, that’s not particularly valuable. For example, if you’re a new author, being on the front page for your name might not give you much bang for your buck, but being on the front page for the book genre would be excellent. And if you have a massive increase in site traffic, but it’s not turning into sales or repeat traffic because the site visitors were mislead, that’s not helpful. Ask whatever company you work with to explain what they’ll do, and if it’s easy for you to understand that’s a good sign. If they spit out a bunch of gobbledygook and act like it’s over your head, they’re not who you want to work with.
- What does success actually look like? Ideally, this translates to sales of your product or service, but you need to define what you want to get out of a relationship with a search marketing firm and make sure you’re on the same page as them. Make sure you can measure results with whomever you’ll be hiring with a relevant metric for you.
- Design your site for PEOPLE not for search engines. Don’t fill your site with content just to attract search engines, and don’t listen to any firm that tells you this is a good idea. Not only will this result in a poor user experience, but search engines are smart enough to figure out if you’ve packed your site with keywords rather than actual content.
- If other sites will link back to your site, make sure they’re quality and relevant. Having links back to your site (especially from popular sites) is a great way to boost your ranking, but be discriminating. It’s not worth it to exchange links with sites that aren’t relevant to your business or where the content is questionable.
- It’s about communicating, not broadcasting. It’s about relationships with relevant, real people. Whatever path your web marketing will take it’s not something you do once and forget about. It’s also not about the old-school method of broadcasting how awesome your company is and expecting people to come knocking. Any valid modern method will involve cultivating and communicating content that’s relevant, helpful, and starts a conversation. This means you want to be involved — you want to be a part of the conversation with your existing or potential customers — not only so that relationship can turn into business, but also so that there’s not a disconnect between the way your marketing firm is representing your company and the way you want your company represented. In the best case you have complete faith in your marketing firm to handle your outreach relationships, but even then you’ll want to be part of the conversation.
Because I live in Portland, Oregon one type of project I regularly work on is for local Portland small businesses like Classic Sash & Door. I love working on local projects because helping great companies in my home town succeed also helps me & my community. And something nice about small business websites (regardless of where you’re located) is that good ones act as a 24/7 sales person working for you on the internet.
Simply, your goals (online and off) as a small business owner are to raise positive awareness of your services/products and increase the number of people who contact you and then hire you, or purchase your product(s).
On the internet, this means the desired result is being on the front page of Google results for your search terms, but also strategic placement of links to your site in places that list services contextually (eg: Angie’s List).
So how do you achieve this holy grail of searchability and being listed in the right place? Here are some pointers… Click here to read more »
Many of the websites that I create are for authors and books. And while every project is different, and each project is tailored to the author or book in question, there are some similar elements I almost always recommend people include on their site Home pages – the most important landing page of the site. I’ll break it down by author sites and book sites… Click here to read more »
Understandably people want to extend their visual brand throughout their communication platforms – including email. But as anyone who has delved into designing for email knows, getting creative in email can be a challenge.
Often efforts at email creativity results in unintended layouts, different results across email programs, and broken images. So when you’re trying to present a consistent brand by using an email signature, how do you avoid these pitfalls? By keeping it simple. Click here to read more »
With so much competition for attention, how do you make sure your website rises above to make a great first impression? More than anything else, making strategic decisions for your brand by asking the right questions will ensure that decisions about design or messaging are made with your overall goals in mind. The result being not only the lasting impression you’re looking for, but cohesion between your company values and the website that represents them.
So what are these questions? Here’s a brief list to help get you started:
- What’s unique about your company?
- How would you briefly describe what your company does?
- What’s your vision for your company’s future?
- Who is your biggest competition?
- Who is your target audience?
- What’s the most important decision your customers make when it comes to choosing your company?
- How do you think your company is perceived today, and what do you like and dislike about that?
- Why do you want to have a new website, or have your current website redesigned?
- Why will people visit your company’s website?
- What do you want people to come away with after visiting your company’s website?
By answering these questions you’ll have lots of information to help inform the decisions you’ll make regarding your website, whether you’re building it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you. As you think about the messaging you’ll include on the site and how it will be designed, refer back to your answers to help guide your plans to make sure you’re serving your company well!
There comes a time in the creation of every website where large files need to be shared among stakeholders. This might be when the website owner is sending content for the website to the web designer, or it might be when the web designer is sending mockups back to their client. Either way, email isn’t always the best way, and you don’t always want your work-in-progress mockups on the internet for all to discover. Plus, email software will often reject emails with huge attachments, and they can be unwieldy for all involved.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, there’s a wonderful service called YouSendIt.com. They allow you to send single files up to 100MB to people, who can then download the file using a link in an email they receive from the service for free. The recipient can download using the link in the email they receive for a handful of days, and then it expires.
It’s a wonderful, easy-to-use service.
If you need to send lots of files to someone, just zip them up and use YouSendIt to send the single zip file. This is a wonderful way to not only compress the size of the transfer, but to make it easy for the recipient to work with lots of files pertaining to one project.
Your operating system may already have an easy way for you to zip up files (Mac comes with one automatically), usually by selecting multiple files in your Explorer (PC) or Finder (Mac), then right-clicking and accessing the “Archive” or “Compress” or “ZIP” function. If you don’t have a ZIP program on your PC, 7-ZIP (http://www.7-zip.org/) is a great, free program for the PC.
It’s taken a long time, but the relaunch of Outbox Online is here!
About a year ago, I decided to recreate my website. I wanted to streamline the presentation and I wanted to use WordPress as my CMS. My own site, however, took a back burner to all client projects, so I worked on it in brief spurts. Recently I decided it was time to finally make it happen, so I updated the design slightly and spent nights and weekends putting it together. And here it is!
It’s not entirely finished, but it’s finished enough to launch. I’m hoping the new design will make it easier to understand what I do, how to get in touch with me, and see examples of my recent work.
In coming weeks I’ll be adding featured projects, providing a way to get a quote on a project, and eventually, a way to purchase a packaged semi-custom website. Stay tuned!