Bring in web users with Blogging

Blogging lap top

Want Site Traffic? Learn How Blogging Lures Visitors to You

Producing great content is a strategy that a few businesses overlook.  Let’s take this example: you just had your site designed (or redesigned).  You’ve got all of the features where you want them, the copy is crisp, the coloring is smart, and the back-end is search optimized.  Now what?

If no one is coming to your site to look at it, then it’s not doing its job.  Luring traffic in, whether for the first time or a repeat, is an important step in the process.  And the key to doing that is to show how valuable you are, how great your ideas are, how generous you are with solutions.  Providing content is a killer way to do just that.  Even better, a collection of great content builds on itself.  It compounds and expands.  As long as you keep adding content, you’ll have some great momentum going.

Consider these ways that you can use content to get attention and draw people to your site.

Blogging

Posting blogs that your audience agrees are useful is a great way to attract traffic to your site.  How do you find out what they think is useful?  Talk to your customers or clients and find out what their biggest worries and problems are in your expertise, and blog about those things.  The result: you’ll be the reliable, approachable, smart source that takes care of them.

Don’t be afraid to give away your whole process for free on the blog—if someone reading it has a DIY mindset, then they wouldn’t buy from you anyway.  Or, alternatively, they try what you do and realize that it’s easier just to hire you.  Your customers or clients ultimately want to pay for you to tailor your offerings to their situation—after all, you’re the expert here!

Aggregating

One option is to search the internet for topics that your readers care about and post a collection of those resources on your site.  There are three main benefits to this approach:

  1. You are recognized as a thought leader.
  2. You build a community who follow your posts and are eager to see what you choose to include.
  3. You get the attention of the original authors, who may share your content with their audience in turn.

But remember to post your reactions with a link.  Give credit to the writer, attribute the piece, and link back to the article.  Don’t, under any circumstances, copy and paste the entire article and post that on your site—even if you give credit.  It’s bad for SEO, and it’s generally seen as malicious.

Offering to Guest Post

Guest posting is where you reach out to another blogger that your audience might read and offer to write a post for them.  These blogs could be local or community blogs as easily as they might be interest blogs.

When you offer to write for them, the blog owner gets to take a break and let you teach the audience something that they wouldn’t be able to.  You, of course, get exposure with their audience.  The result is cross-pollination in the blog world, and everyone is happy—the audience learns more, the blogger looks well-connected by bringing you in, and you get to talk to folks that you might not have been able to otherwise.

Are you thinking about ways that you can share your knowledge, cultivate recognition, and bring traffic to your site?  What topics does your audience care about?  What topics will you write about?  Tell us what you think with your reply

Need a New Or Updated Site for your Business?

New construction of the Bothell's Court House

What You Need To Know About Designs

If you think that web design is just about the stuff you can see, you’re not alone.  In reality, web design is also about bringing all of the back-end pieces together while talking to search engines so people can find your site.

Let’s look at a few of the pieces—both front and back—that you need to make an effective website.

Page Layout

The way that the features of your site are presented speaks to your target audience.  There is a certain cadence in where things are placed on a page.  And you have your choice of any number of feeds, text boxes videos, images, shows, features, forms, and other pieces to work into your page.  The way that those are set up should lead your visitors toward a certain goal—often that will be to buy or contact you.

Remember your layout needs to be intuitive and clear for the people you want to look at your site.  More often than not, that means that it should be accessible for people even if they’re not tech savvy.  Sometimes, too, you might need to keep a single element consistent on every page of your site—often this will be a menu.  And also, be sure to read through everything on your site.  Make sure it’s consistent—if you ask someone to contact you, have a contact form on the page.

Font Choice

There are literally thousands—maybe millions—of fonts available.  Which do you choose?  Generally, you have your choice of one font for body text, one for header text, and maybe one or two more that you use for special bits like an image.  The text that you choose will inform people on the tone of your site, so pick a combination that speaks to your audience clearly and on their level.  You can be serious, factual, comical, casual, gaudy—whatever.  But never use a font that’s hard to read!

The Coding Question

It’s not uncommon to find a designer that is more involved with the appearance of a site.  In some cases, it’s good for your designer to know how to code.  Like if your project is especially intricate, custom, or specialized.  In these cases, you might need to seek out a designer who is also comfortable working deep in code.

On the other hand, there are a lot of solid options for templates and pre-built platforms.  If you’re on a budget, don’t have any needs that are out of the ordinary, or just want to see the work get done, it makes more sense to just find a designer who can use and work with those templates.  Usually, that includes setting up the back-end so that search engines can find you easily.

What’s your web design project like?  Have you got an idea of how you want your site laid out?  Have you found a couple of fonts that you like?  Determined if you need a custom-coded site or if a well-designed template will do?  Let us know with your reply!

Marketing your business

Man going to Marketing confrence

Local Businesses: How to Get Better SEO from Everyday Marketing. It’s no secret that if your business works on a local level, selling or serving people in your community, that you’ve got a whole different set of challenges than a national or international business. But you also have some advantages that you hold over larger enterprises.

Take search engine results, for example. Many search engines give priority listings to local businesses when a relevant search comes up. And on top of that, local results will often come up first if the searcher is using a mobile device. If you’re a local business, you’re probably already getting the word out to people that you’re around so you can do business—this is just another way to get more leverage out of the things you’re already doing!

So how do you boost your online presence to become a local leader? Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to get more out of your marketing.

Community Involvement

Some people have their priorities completely backwards. They think that ranking high on a search engine is more important than going out and meeting with the people that they work and live around. These folks ought to flip their strategy on its head!

Search engines can and do take into account where your business shows up, especially if it’s involved in community activities. And you might think that some SEO holdovers are going to be enough to reach and hang on to the top spot—but they’re not. If you can choose between link building and shaking hands, go and meet people!

But while you’re introducing yourself, do everything you can to get listed on community boards, calendars, message boards, and social media sites to demonstrate that you’re a part of that community. You will definitely improve your ranking, but more importantly, you’ll be talking to the people who might want to buy from you.

If you catch wind of a trade show or business fair in the area, try to grab a spot. Demonstrate to your local market what you’re offering and why you stand out. But don’t forget to take videos and pictures that you can post, and talk about the experience on your blog or social media accounts.

Your community may not be very proactive about putting on these sorts of events, and that’s alright. If you don’t have any opportunities to join in, or if your offerings aren’t suited for mixed groups, you can put on your own demonstration for current and potential customers. It gives people a reason to buy from you or refer you, as well as give their impression about you on the web.

Guest Blogging

Take a look around to find blogs that speak to your community. If you’re in a B2C business, an online newspaper might be a good start. For B2B businesses, start by looking into local business networks.

Offer to write a post that they can publish, and make sure it will be something that’s useful to their readership. You might give do-it-yourself tips or information to help them hire or buy from someone like you—what insider information do they need to know? Make sure to include a link back to your site, often in the author’s profile at the end of the post.

Real-World Marketing

If you are building awareness of your brand in the real world, do it in a way that can point back to your website (which should serve as a hub for your whole marketing strategy). Use any resources that are available to you, like a local newspaper, newsletter, or business guide. Always include your website URL, but also use your social media contact information if you have the opportunity.

Submit to Localized Directories

Some sites act as a hub for local business information and views, like Manta, City Search, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Foursquare. You can submit or claim your business profile on these sites to associate yourself with the location, and your customers and clients can leave feedback and recommendations that might lead to more business. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you are to get new business from them.

Linking With Partners

Do you have local partners that help you do business in any way? Or maybe you’re part of a group or association of professionals? Talk to some of these other businesses about including links to each other’s site on a special ‘partner’ page. You’ll get more people seeing your brand, and it will have a definite impact on your search results.

But be careful of people who list a lot of partners. Search engines don’t take them seriously, and they may actually penalize you for being linked on their page. If a partner already has five or more partner links on their site, politely decline to list a link.

What do you do to get out into the community? How do you engage with people who will buy from you? And how do you turn that into better local search engine rankings?

We would like to see your answers by repleying to this post. 

The First Thing We See: Get the Most Out Of URLs

Keywords and URLS

If you’re building a site, giving it a renovation, or just adding content, you want to make sure that it’s accessible to both the visitors who come by and the web-crawling search engines.  One of the most important ways that you can do that is by choosing a descriptive URL. Ideally, your URL will act as the first indicator of what to expect on a particular page in the way of content.  So let’s check out four of the most important things to remember about choosing your URL.

Short and Simple

Simple URLs are often most effective—just use the URL to say what will be on the page.  There’s no need to try to get too flashy or imaginative, especially when sales might be on the line.  Use words and avoid using numbers or symbols that might confuse both potential visitors and the search engines. And while you’re trying to keep your URL straightforward, distill it some as well.  A short, direct, accessible URL will stay memorable.  Try to describe exactly the content that people will find in four syllables or less.

Keyword Spike

Your URL is the main gate of your entire website operation.  It is a featured part of every page and it’s one of the first things a visitor or web crawler sees.  This is literally the best time to integrate a keyword into anything on your site.  Expect the keyword you use to spearhead the rest of your SEO measures, but don’t think that a keyword in a URL will carry the site. Also, on the other side of the coin, don’t misuse a keyword or mislabel your site.  If a keyword in your URL actually represents the opposite of what your site is about, you will be penalized by search engines.

Case Sensitivity and Preferred Punctuation

Did you know that URLs are case sensitive?  Most often, your browsers will convert upper case characters in a URL to lowercase characters.  And usually it’s best to just use lower-case in your URL so you don’t hit any snags. If you do use uppercase letters in your URL for some reason, make sure you have a good webmaster who can setup 301 redirects.  A 301 redirect functionally helps to stop some of the confusion that might be caused by upper-case usage, and it definitely helps to curb some of the web crawler errors that might also come up. Another thing to keep note of is that underscores (the ‘_’ symbol) aren’t a good option for separating words.  If you do want to separate words for some reason, use a hyphen.  Ultimately, this switch-out is for the benefit of potential visitors—it makes the URLs easy to read and distinguish.

Override Your CMS

Some content management systems (CMS) generate URLs for your different pages that have crazy things like special characters and weird scripting.  This stuff has literally nothing to do with any of the content on your page—and that’s unacceptable.  It won’t help you bring in visitors or interact with web crawlers, and these bizarre hieroglyphs are almost impossible to type into an address bar.  Hope you didn’t want to go straight to the page!  Change that URL to something people can read.

How you handle your URL is really important to how your site interacts with people, as well as search engines.  Do you have any questions about how to handle a URL centered situation?  Leave a reply or set up a free consultation with an Online Marketing professional.

Lost On the Trail? 4 Reasons Why You Really Need a Sitemap

Sitemap for Websites

 

You’ve heard of a sitemap—that list of links that looks like an outline for essays like you used to do in college.  There’s no good reason to use a sitemap, is there?  It’s all redundant anyway, right?  Well, you might be surprised.  Here are four ways that a sitemap can help you out.

1.     In-House Organization

This page gives you a complete, meta-perception of what your site looks like.  You may browse through for opportunities or search with a purpose.  For example, if you have a services page that you want to split into descriptions about each separate service, you’ll have the tools to be able to think about what that will look like.

Do you want to just split the pages equilaterally?  Is one page best communicated as a subset of another page?  Should you build separate top-level sections for different offers?  The opportunities go on from there, and it would be much harder to make a decision if you didn’t have a sitemap at your disposal.

 

2.     Help People Navigate the Site

It’s probably no surprise that something called a “sitemap” can be a navigation tool.  But if you make it available for people who drop by your site, you offer them another (and often exceedingly easy) way to navigate between pages and subpages.  What they want to get to is not always obvious, and laying your cards on the table is going to be best for you and your visitor.

If you have tens of pages on you site (or even a bigger number, into the thousands), lost visitors have the option to pull open the sitemap and find out where they may have gone wrong.  That’s a very useful option for them to navigate to the content they want most.  And since these visitors are self-selecting to try to get to that page, they’re more likely to perform whatever next action you might want from them—buying, giving contact information, etc.

 

3.     Demonstrate a Theme

Looking over the links included on a sitemap gives your visitors an idea about how you want to communicate with them.  You show which subjects you consider to be most important in a visual food chain, as well your methods of categorization.  The visitor gets an idea of what you’re about, which means they’re better equipped to recommend you or purchase from you.

 

4.     Search Engine Optimization

With this single page, a web crawler has access to your entire site, its hierarchy, and a lot of the most important tags.  Using this information, it will follow the links that you provide on the sitemap and then index them all.

This easy access to information will put your site in a better position to come in searches that relate to you.  Pages can pop up from the title they’re given, the name of the link, or other tags or content found on the site.

For this reason, it’s really important to have a link to your sitemap on the front page of your site.

Does your site have a map included?  How has it helped you to make tactical edits?  Has it been useful for your visitors?  Did you notice any changes in search traffic after you published?  Or, are you still unsure on what a site map is all about?  Leave a Reply or set up a consultation with an Internet Marketing Professional in Bothell, Washington.

3 Mistakes to Avoid With Your Next Website

Image of guy avoid mistakes with website

One big mistake that a lot of small businesses make—especially those who are just starting to dip a toe into using the web for marketing—is to forget about what the end goal is: to make a sale.  Web crawlers that place your site in search engine results don’t make a sale, and neither do decision makers who demand that their site appeal to their own design preferences.
Designing your site so your visitors want to interact with you is the top priority.  Here are three things that you should keep in mind when you’re having your site built or redesigned.

1.     Know Your Buyer

Seems obvious, right?  You’d be surprised how many business owners and managers can’t pinpoint their target audience.

Instead of committing to tight, targetable descriptions, these people start piling one audience on top of another until they’ve got a hodge-podge of people coming to their site who really don’t want to be talked to the same way.  Another pitfall is the self-concerned owner or manager, who would rather design a site that appeals to his or her own sensibilities than their customers’.

If you don’t already know why people want to buy from you, ask your current or past customers why they chose you instead of your competitors.  And here’s a hint: most customer segments are more interested in hearing about what your offerings will do to make their lives easier, and not the minutiae of details you can give them.  That doesn’t mean you should hide those details, just lead with the most compelling messages and images.

2.     Choose Business over Beauty

Get it out of your head that websites need to be pretty.  All they need to do is be useful, engaging, and above all persuasive for your audience.  That doesn’t mean that your site shouldn’t be attractive, but keep your eye on the ball and make sure it appeals to the target audience.  If you’re trying to get the attention of new moms in from 25-35 years old, for example, your site should have an entirely different aesthetic than if you wanted to sell to a business where the decision maker is a 55 year old man.

There is one thing you should keep in mind on that note—beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and so should your website.  If your site isn’t responsive (that is, changes its format based on which device the visitor is using), then you’re at a disadvantage against your competitors whose sites are responsive.  With so many people browsing on their phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, you need to be ready to accommodate your visitor no matter where they’re coming from.

3.     You Have Access to Data—Use It!

So many people seem to think that their website is static, like a billboard or a brochure.  In reality, it’s a living, breathing tool that you can change to suit your needs.  But to find out what those needs are, you’ll have to let it tell you.

Use data measurement tools like Google Analytics to find out where visitors going on your site.  There are a few other factors you’ll want to keep your eye on outside of your site, like where its listing comes up in search engine rankings, but making connections between those exterior factors and how many people are actually buying from you or contacting you is really the core of the exercise.

If you’re not getting the results that you expect to, take a look at where people start dropping off or bottle-necking.  Use that information to make discreet revisions, changing some specific aspect of one page instead of redoing the whole site.  Making small tweaks based on informed decisions, you can get incremental wins, or jump ahead by leaps and bounds.

Are you getting ready to build or rebuild your website?  Set up a free consultation with Allshouse Designs an Online Marketing Agency in Bothell, Washington