What’s the Big Deal about Website Design?

One of the reasons that I love working with WordPress is the infinite possibility and flexibility it offers.

It allows novices and experts alike to create stunning websites worthy of the brand that they represent.

So, why would you bother hiring a website designer if you can do all of this yourself?

It’s the same response that I give to people when they ask why they should use an independent publisher, like our sister organization, Emerald Lake Books, when they can self-publish.

We know what you don’t.

We know the design standards. We know the hidden pitfalls. We know how to develop sites (and books) to avoid potential issues down the road. We know how to select themes, plugins, products and services that will grow with you.

It’s why we go through an intensive interview process before we even begin working on a new site.

We need to understand what you want your site to do now, and what you want it capable of doing three years from now.

We dig deep to learn about your ideal audience, what their needs are, and what we can do to make your site the place they want to visit most out of the millions of websites they could spend their time on.

We learn about your likes and dislikes in terms of branding, colors, layouts, functionality, etc.

And we take all of these factors and more into consideration when we design the site that’s right for you.

More than that, though. We can save you from false starts.

A hard lesson

I recently inherited a client’s website. She’d had a friend create it for her, and was hosting it on a web server owned by the friend of another friend.

When she hired me, she thought she was ready to have the site optimized for SEO. However, upon performing an SEO evaluation for her, it became clear that she did not have what she thought she had purchased.

The “WordPress website” she’d purchased was actually made in Adobe Muse and published to the web host. This meant that only her developer had access to the source files, and my client could not easily update the site herself (a requirement she’d stipulated when she contracted with her friend to do the site in the first place).

The web host she was using was a small outfit that only owned one server. As a result, they were very protective of that single server, knowing that if anything ever happened to it, they were out of business.

When my client’s email address was randomly hacked, the web host went ballistic. Their rants and unprofessional manner of addressing our client’s distress did nothing to resolve the problem. In fact, the web host locked down every single cPanel function and blocked our client’s ability to send and receive email for more than a week, effectively shutting down my client’s business.

Before I could ever do anything about the SEO activities I was hired to do, we had to convert the website from Muse to WordPress, migrate it to a new web host and transfer the domain registry as well, simply to avoid the false starts and poor choices that were unwittingly made at the start.

When you work with a professional web designer, they have the experience necessary to know which services and products they trust and would recommend. If you’re only doing one or two websites for yourself, the chances are, you simply don’t have the same breadth of knowledge necessary to avoid painful lessons.

The periodic table of web design

To gain a fuller understanding of what you get when you work with a website designer, consider this behind-the-scenes look at the web design process. Because that’s what you get when you hire a professional.

Periodic
Periodic Table of Web Design Process – created by
New Design Group

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue [Infographic]

The folks at CopyBlogger have done it again! They’re the experts when it comes to creating great content, and this infographic is no exception.

As they acknowledge, even professional writers sometimes get stuck for content ideas. And the same is true for authors and speakers. There are times when the well simply runs dry.

So, what do you write about then?

I’m hoping the ideas that are shared here will help get those creative juices flowing.

And thanks again, CopyBlogger, for always being willing to share!

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Google vs Facebook: Who Will Dominate?

A visitor to this site recently shared a new infographic with me. It’s title? “The Tech Cold War: Facebook Vs. Google.” (The infographic appears at the end of this post.)

The details explore the growth and trajectory of both of the tech giants, asking the questions:

Will one side emerge as the dominate power, or will they be locked in a stalemate for years to come? And what does this mean for the consumer?

However, those questions presuppose that there isn’t room for them both, and that they are seeking the same thing, vying for the consumer’s attention.

This is when things start to become confusing. Google and Facebook have tried to occupy the same space, with little success!

Google’s earlier failed social networks, Google Wave and Google Buzz, laid the groundwork for its quasi-success with Google+. But even there, it’s only in the way it distinguishes itself from Facebook (Google Hangouts and Google Authorship) that it’s successful. As a social network, it’s still relatively sparsely populated, even though social activity there contributes more to your SEO (search engine optimization) than elsewhere. [Read more…]

LinkedIn Announces Their Latest Profile Changes

Last week, LinkedIn announced the new LinkedIn Premium Experience, with new ways to make your profile stand out visually, suggestions to help you optimize your profile, the ability to stand out more in search results (think of Google’s AuthorRank here), opening the privacy settings on your profile to allow more people to find and engage with you, and better tracking ability to understand your impact and visibility.

[Note: The majority of these features are only available to paying LinkedIn customers at this time, but some will make their way into the free accounts over time as well.]

Enhance Your Profile Visually

Taking its cue from other social networks, LinkedIn now allows premium members to add a cover image to their profile. This can be a great way to extend your brand or give viewers a visual clue as to who you are and what you are like.

You’ll have access to:

  • Larger profile photos
  • Expanded backgrounds

Artfully combining the two can convey a rich story. For example, Richard Branson’s cover image is of clouds, with his profile picture looking upward, denoting his reputation for progressive ideas that push the normal boundaries of business (and that he owns an airline that’s reaching for the stars).

Richard Branson - Founder of Virgin

 

In a few months, all members will be able to add the custom profile background, which is great, if you find an artful way to use it! [Read more…]

Setting up an Editorial Calendar

It Can be Hard to Stop Coming Up with Content Ideas, So Create an Editorial CalendarEarlier this week, I shared “9 Ways to Generate Content Ideas.” The problem is, once you get started generating ideas, it may be hard to stop.

So, what do you do with all of the new ideas?

You create an editorial calendar! This calendar will allow you to organize and prioritize your posts so that your blog starts to gain some continuity.

Rather than random thoughts shared here and there, each post can build on the one before, or introduce one that’s to come after. [Read more…]

5 Unique Ways to Get Backlinks to Your Website

Today’s guest post is from Sarah Boisvert, who is an author who writes on a wide range of topics from small business to investing to high technology. She also covers social media and has written profiles of Bill Gates, Steve Wynn, and Chuck Hull.
Spider web image for 5 Unique Ways to Get Backlinks to Your Websites

Backlinks help readers find your website in the tangle of the Web! [Photo credit: Tina Phillips via FreeDigitalPhotos.com]

In this Internet age, websites are key to selling every product and service from books to videos and speaking engagements to webinars. But having a website is just the beginning. To get potential customers to find your specific website in the tangle of the Web requires having a high page rank for your keywords in search engines like Google.

Search algorithms increasingly rely upon backlinks to evaluate content strength. The logic goes that if a website is mentioned with a hyperlink to it on another website, then the content must be valuable to readers.

Knowing this, some webmasters went overboard creating links to hundreds of sites. Many of these backlinks also had no relationship to the subject matter or were connected to sites that bordered on spam.

Google responded to these tactics intended to “fool” the system, of course, and now includes relevance of subject matter in their algorithms. Consequently, backlinks of good quality are essential to driving more traffic to your website.

While it takes a little more effort now to get good backlinks, there are many unique ways to be sure your website stays within Google guidelines. Here are some tips to get you started.

Partner with Smaller Vendors

Large vendors like Amazon have established backlink programs for authors and product suppliers, but don’t ignore the smaller outlets. Get a list from your distributor of stores that carry your books and contact the manager or owner about backlinks. Organizations that hire you to speak are also a good source of backlinks. Of course, you’ll need to reciprocate and link back to these vendors on your website, but that is just good business for everyone.

Befriend Bloggers

Bloggers are always searching for new topics for blog posts. By searching for top bloggers in your subject area, you can build a list of potential websites for backlinks.

Perhaps they could include a book or podcast review, an interview before an upcoming book signing or speech, or a general interest story. This provides an opportunity for the blog to link to your website. As before, you need to be a good member of the online community and reciprocate. You can do something simple like create a page of News and Reviews with links and a brief description.

Twitter logo used in 5 Unique Ways to Get Backlinks to Your Website

Twitter is filled with media writers and bloggers [Image credit: Twitter]

Social Media

Twitter is a great social media platform for finding writers and bloggers who might be interested in reciprocal links. The Twitterverse is full of media types from national, local and international news agencies as well as bloggers covering everything you can imagine. Search for some keywords from your field and create lists of the writers you find.

There are rules of etiquette that accompany being a good member of the community. First, you’ll need to engage with the writers or bloggers, getting to know them in Cyberspace. Once you’ve established credibility and demonstrated that you’re not a spammer, you can ask for a backlink. Most Tweeters who “know” you are happy to comply.

Trade Associations and Other Organizations

Trade associations or other organizations are always happy to promote members. Often they will publish news about individual members or business and corporate members and include a backlink. This is true for every type of group from your local Chamber of Commerce to the national alumni association of your college alma mater. Get to know the membership director or IT specialist to see what kinds of backlinks they can provide.

Don’t Forget Fans or User Groups

It goes without saying that fans are always willing to help out since they are happy customers who want you to succeed. Reach out through your database or blog, but again, you don’t want to be a spammer! Limit the number of requests and, if possible, offer an incentive such as a small gift card or a promotional item.

Working on backlinks has an additional benefit beyond search engine optimization. You’ll be interacting more with the world, and it’s through being visible that good PR opportunities also arise. Following these five tips, you’ll be sure to increase sales of all your products and services through a variety of channels.