Archive for the ‘web design’ Category

4 Myths of Google that Your Business Needs to Know

by John Kim & Kimberly Carrillo, SEO Services, IF marketing & advertising

Myth #1
Our web design firm has “secrets” to get you ranked on top of Google!

Because Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is both a science and art, many vendors promise “first page rankings!” to unwitting businesses owners. This claim is the equivalent of “make a lot of money from home with no skills and no money down – with my real estate secrets!”

Really? If you fall for this, you just may deserve to have your money taken. More often than not, these vendors have sales agreements that do NOT back up any guarantee, or include pay-per-click advertising as a “first page ranking.”

Ask any vendor promising search engine success one question – do they have any track record of building an online business themselves? Most successful online marketers bring corporate or entrepreneurial track records having built web-based businesses from the ground up – not just designing websites and “SEO’ing” them. If they can’t build their own web business (other than selling SEO & web design) how are they going to do it for you? This reminds me of the “start-up consultants” that arose in the dotcom boom in Silicon Valley – the irony being that while they charged fees to advise one on how to build a successful start-up business – they themselves had never done it.

Any SEO firm that promises results should be approached with a wary eye. No different than the real estate infomercials at night that promise million dollar results for the fee of an over-priced book. They might make you feel good and full of initial optimism, but they probably won’t make your business a single cent.

Myth #2
It’s too hard to get on Google.

Actually, once your business gets hooked on revenues from being in the search engines, it’s hard to give up. That’s why your competition doesn’t want you as yet another entrant onto their cyber-turf and why Google’s stock price is so high – not because people like using their search engine, but because the websites that are listed on Google experience so much new business by being ranked at the top. Hence is Google’s power to build new businesses and new sources of income for companies that previously did not have large marketing budgets. Google works so well that businesses get “addicted” to the new monies Google brings them.

It’s too hard to get on Google if your search engine marketers do not have the experience of being a veteran in a space that is only 7 – 8 years old. Having said that, for most business owners with vision, one can NOT afford to ignore the rising power that Google brings to small businesses. Once you’re listed in Google and rising in the ranks – most likely your business will also get “hooked” on the new revenues and customers that this newfound visibility brings your business.

Myth #3
It’s a black box of never-ending costs to be on Google.

In most industries, the cost and effort to be ranked atop Google have reached the 3 P’s of the marketplace – price, parity, and par. Meaning that an average marketer may spend $35 to get each new potential customer from Google, but that $35 spent represents a 50% to 200% return in terms of the new business it brings in.

A smart marketer can take that and make it upwards of 400%. And what does it take to be a smart marketer? Like most things – experience. Search Engine Optimization is a relatively new field of software engineering & marketing, and because it’s such a new industry, it has a lack of experienced pros and a glut of fresh vendors eager to “cash in” on the search engine boom. The pros with track records charge an arm and a leg (because they can) and the fresh-faced Johhny-come-latelies offer low prices with “guarantees!” that often yield little to no results.

Compared to word-of-mouth, print advertising, radio, yellow pages or any other ad medium, search engines bring in a far better return-on-investment (ROI) than any other form of advertising. And unlike word-of-mouth, businesses can throttle their spending on Google up and down – generating as few or as many customers as needed, all on demand.

Myth #4
Buying a book on SEO will teach us what we need to know.

Even a competent webmaster can toil away for 2+ years and still not be successful at SEO. That’s because SEO requires a combination of technical mastery of websites as well as a creative element of designing SEO campaigns. Because there are no schools or degrees in SEO (yet) much of the information regarding successful web marketing is scattered and constantly changing. So no book could possibly stay atop the ever-changing search engine result rollercoaster.

That’s because the search engines themselves are continuously altering their algorithms (the mathematical formula(s) that dictate how websites get ranked) in order to keep the results relevant and fresh. This means that there is no “set it and forget it” or periodic “SEO treatments” that can have real affects on rankings. In-house SEO means touching the website on a periodic, if not daily, basis in order to stay atop the competition and regularly study the new trends in SEO.

If you’re going to optimize in-house, spend the first 6 months to get an SEO firm with experience to guide the in-house webmaster – otherwise the webmaster may waste 6 months to a year just “guessing” as to which strategies work best for your business situation, budget, and industry. Also, inexperienced link building strategies and optimization tactics can get your website banned from Google. You’ve been warned!

Your Website is Your Best Employee

Imagine an employee who performs multiple roles for you — PR, branding, lead generation and customer communications to name a few. Now imagine this employee works 24 hours a day and never calls in sick. With a well-planned and properly designed website, that’s exactly what you get… a round-the-clock virtual employee to further your company’s growth.

You deserve the kind of website that makes customers say “wow” and “thank you” at the same time. The “wow” part comes from an attractive web design that enhances your company’s brand. The “thank you” part comes from quality content and ease of navigation.

But let’s not forget other important factors in a good internet presence. A fast loading website (24 seconds or less on a 56K connection) is gaining significance in the online world. Many think that to have an attractive website, you have to have one that takes a long time to load. This is not true. Web designers who really know their trade can build an online presence for you that is fast and appealing to the eye.

>> What is the load time of your website?

Also take note that most sites are moving away from the graphic heavy design and towards sites that contain text menus and no flash or animated gifs. This will ensure that your site can be crawled easily by search engines and will be better on the eyes of those who are visually challenged. This may seem like small potatoes to your current clients, but what about your current clients in 10 years? And don’t forget about new clients that may choose you over your competitors for the sole reason that your site was easy to use!

Internet marketing companies such as Intra-Focus, Inc. give you these things and more through their web development and design services. Not only do they have many years of experience, but they also continue to follow trends and learn about new technologies and internet guidelines. As an added bonus, you can use Intra-Site which helps you to manage incoming web traffic, customer communication and lead generation!

The Ideal Website Design Process

Before Intra-Focus designs a single element of a website, they actively get to know you and your organization. They do this through a combination of conference calls, survey questionnaires, and in-person meetings. What is your company all about? Who is your audience? What sets you apart from the competition?

Any good design company wants to hear you describe these things in your own words. Armed with this information, they can design a website that will enhance your company’s brand and help you achieve your objectives, while still presenting your site with today’s internet standards in mind.

If your web design company hasn’t been focusing on the items mentioned in this article, then there is a good chance that you are using someone who is behind the times. Approach them with your concerns. If they don’t seem troubled or cannot fix the problems, it is time to create an internet marketing relationship elsewhere.

Have questions or need a quote on a website build? Contact Intra-Focus today and ask about their corporate web design and internet branding services.

How to Make Your Website Stand Out

How to Make Your Website Stand Out
Published in the AMA Bulletin
by John Wilkinson, JH&A Advertising

Today the Internet hosts over 92,000,000 websites. How can you make yours stand out while displaying your products or services in the most compelling light? Here are some tips from an industry expert that will help you build a better site that effectively communicates your message.

Robert Cowesvisit northern rail is an expert at creating websites that spotlight products and drive success. He most recently worked at S1 Corporation as the Web Technologies Product Manager and is co-founder of the consulting firm, Intra-Focus Marketing Solutions.

According to Cowes, a successful site considers six critical elements: audience, objective, layout, navigation, content and imagery. It is important for web-based marketers to understand who will be using the site and for what purpose. “People surf the web to research, learn and purchase products. Content addressing these three topics is crucial,” said Cowes.

When a potential customer or client visits a site, they should be greeted by an intuitive “master plan” or site map. A >site map helps visitors quickly and easily navigate to the information they are looking for.

Well thought-out navigation helps create a positive experience for the visitor. Highly visible headers and simple icons should smoothly guide the visitor from page to page. In addition, rotating content not only gives marketers a chance to share more information, it keeps visitors interested and informed. Finally, relevant imagery reinforces your company’s
brand positioning and messaging. “An analogy is a store front,” Cowes explains. “As with retail, your window dressing helps customers decide whether they will enter or pass you by.” Encourage browsers to stop with interesting graphics that complement your brand, enhance your image and provide valuable information not readily available elsewhere.

cranes pond brandingSo you’ve made some website improvements, but how can you know if they work? Consider a call to action. Requesting a response makes recording site traffic easier. For example, a toll-free number and an e-form are useful tools. Ask your visitors, “How did you hear about us?” or “Do you have any comments?”

Eventually, there should be a correlation between the number of page views your web site receives and the number of inquiry forms submitted.

By carefully considering your audience and objective, you can create content, imagery, a layout and a navigation system tailored to their needs while also improving product awareness. Next month there will be over 96,000,000 websites. Are you achieving your fair share of visits?

About Intra-Focus

Intra-Focus is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.

For more information on Intra-Focus’s marketing services, please contact: Robert Cowes Products & Services Principal
512.930.5558
rcowes[at]intra-focus.com.

The Truth About SEO

Your site and the new generation of organic search technology.

By Robert Cowes (Products & Services Principal) & Clay Delk (Marketing Communications Writer) at Intra-Focus, Inc.

Unlike any other advertising medium, a successful internet presence can make or break businesses in almost any field. As internet presence, marketing and sales become a more integral part of business success, the degree of web presence and the process of “search marketing” have become more valuable than ever. Search engine optimization is still very much an emerging art, but its importance has grown exponentially over the last decade.

Early incarnations of search engines and search marketing were much different than today’s standard. To place high in rankings, business owners simply needed to place a handful of metatags or descriptors into their web page headers. Today’s search engines utilize a much more advanced combination of factors–or algorithm–to determine the best web pages. While metatags are still important, these new algorithms also take into account factors like specific copy and word choice, links from outside sites, submissions to online directories and regular content updates.

These elements combine in what is now called an organic search engine because the final results tend to be pages that are not only directly related, but have also grown to become highly regarded authorities on the subject. The search engine companies regularly reconfigure their algorithms every 3 to 6 months making this combination of factors even more difficult to decipher. Since each is a publicly traded company, they are continually working to maintain an edge over each other and over businesses trying to make the most of their sites.

In addition, regularly changing the algorithms helps ensure that the company’s own pay-per-click services remain useful and effective. These services will place a sponsor’s link at the top or along the side of the website for specific searches. These services work well for quick, dependable placement, but can also become very expensive.

All of these factors have combined to make search engine optimization a very complex and time-consuming element of a successful web presence. Some of the top companies offering SEO services charge anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000 for set up and another $300 to $5,000 a month to maintain the website. A recent survey of industry professionals found that over half (64%) of all businesses that outsource search marketing fail to implement the SEO companies’ recommendations. The major reasons for this failure stem from a lack of human resources and budgetary allocations required to optimize and maintain a successful web presence.

Fortunately, Intra-Focus now offers organic search marketing services with a proactive approach to website maintenance, linking campaigns and regular content updates. This new service is different from our previous treatment campaigns because we can now actively work to maintain and improve your web presence on a monthly basis–not only improving your original search ranking, but continuing to grow your web presence organically.

About Intra-Focus, Inc.
Intra-Focus, Inc. is a full-service marketing company that integrates art and technology to deliver traditional and Internet marketing solutions. Leveraging marketing expertise and trend setting creativity, Intra-Focus helps its clients build brand strategy and market presence that generate qualified demand and quantifiable results. Intra-Focus provides innovative marketing solutions to businesses ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.