Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Using Your Website to Help People Find Your Store

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Most people are familiar with the Google maps that people put on their website so that you can get driving directions.  However, the typical view shows what the building looks like from the sky.  Unfortunately, we are not living in the cartoon world of the Jetsons, where people get around by flying instead of driving.

Google maps has functionality that will allow you to place a street view of your location on your website.  All you need is someone like A Site that Works who understands Google’s mapping program to add the feature to your site.  Then you can also add other pictures as well.

The result is that people will be able to recognize your building even when they are driving in rush hour traffic and distracted by their telephone.

Make Sure You See a Draft of Your Website Design Before It Goes Live

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

It happened again.  I had a conversation with someone who is unhappy with the web designer who worked on their website.  In this case, the web designer has changed the look of the site without giving the client the chance to approve the look of the site before it went live.

It seems to me that if you are truly a professional that has the interest of your client at heart you do one of two things:

  1. You let people review the look of the site before you make it live and give them a chance to change the look.
  2. If you do not want to risk going through endless edits, then set your limits up front.

Personally, I have found that if we have a good conversation about the look of a website design before we get started designing a website we can deliver a quality mockup in the first draft, so that the site does not have to be re-designed again.  It works even better if we know the marketing emphasis of the website before we begin design.

What I am Thankful For

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Living in a country that respects an individual’s right to worship (or not) the god of their choice.

Living in a country where the people running the government have at least some interest in helping average citizens.  (It could be better, but in many countries government officials exist primarily to line their own pockets.)

That in the 1940’s and 1950’s our leaders chose to rebuild Europe and Japan.

Ways to safely walk and bike to my destinations

Great health that keeps me from having to access the health care system very often.

A high speed internet connection.

A beautiful baby daughter.

A great and well rounded education from Virginia Tech.  A high school English teacher (Ms. Gann) that taught me the basics of good writing.

A modest home to shelter me.

What we need:

More compassion and humility.

We need leadership in Washington DC with a smaller government.

Less demonizing and belittling of RINO and DINO leaders who attempt to forge compromises

A simpler tax system.  New tax breaks only benefit the people that can hire accountants to track them.

Quality high speed internet access for every business, rural and urban.  Soon every person will need it as well.  The issue is as important as rural electrification was in the early 1900’s.

An energy policy that discourages fossil fuel usage and encourages renewable sources

Economic development plans that encourage compact urban areas that are walkable and bikeable.

National minimum standards for primary and secondary education.

A middle class.

Economic policies that encourage business to build and create things here.

Incentives and training to help people start small businesses and manufacturing operations.

The focus on healthcare insurance is not the same as focusing on providing healthcare and reducing the cost.  Healthcare costs will only go down when people become responsible for their own costs AND they have choices they can understand and believe in.  Until then, we should plan on healthcare costs bankrupting this country because we have not physically limited the spending or created a system that encourages costs to go down.  (Insurance companies exist to return things to the state they were before a major catastrophe; they do not exist to reduce costs.)  (There are not enough people from 30-50 to pay taxes to keep both the baby boomers up in their retirement and the silent generation when they go to hospitals and nursing homes to die.  They have already been rioting in Europe over these issues.)

How Blogging Improves Your Business Online Marketing, Regardless of the Number of Website Visitors

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Short Answer: Of the tools that can be embedded in your website, blogging is the best online marketing strategy to show that you consistently help other customers with specific problems and the personality you bring to the table.

Long Answer:

The most important thing customers want to know is whether you are likely to help them with a particular problem.  The next most important thing is whether they think they will like working with you.  They are not as interested in your most recent awards or how big you are.  A well-written blog shows website visitors that you are staying current with the problems of your clients and customers.  How you describe solving your client’s problems gives them a clue as to how you will work them.

In the past 20 years we have gone from a world in which corporations could protect their knowledge to one where consumers can find more and more information without professional guidance.  What they need is an understanding of the nuances about how to apply the knowledge.  A blog shows how you apply the basic knowledge that is available to help your clients.

Many small business owners intuitively know that offering a product or a specific skill is not enough.  Many respond by saying we offer great “service” without defining how we provide that service.  Are we detail oriented, warm and fuzzy, cost conscious, investment oriented, well connected, etc.  Again a blog can show a website visitor whether you provide service in a way that meshes with their personality.  (Remember, that the worst clients are the ones that are expecting a different approach than the one you provide.)

Why Is Social Media Important to My Online Marketing Strategy?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Short Answer: It’s real.  It’s harder to fake.  Search engines love it.

Long Answer:

Website marketing professionals and search engines both need each other; but they also have vested interest in masking many of their techniques.

Your online marketing strategy should focus getting people to your site and then converting them into clients and customers.  Most new website visitors will come to your site because a search engine provides a link.  The more the online marketing strategy can be built around the rules of the search engines, the more website visitors the solutions will generate.

The search engines exist to sell advertising; just like radio and television.  The advertising revenue is based on how many people use the search engine, which is based on the quality of the search results.  Since there are so many websites, they have created software tools called robots to scan the web for content.  Since these programs are automatic and require very little human interaction, the search engines must guard against the ranking system from being discovered in full.

Of the types of criteria that search engines use to determine what it is in a website, social media is the most real and the hardest to fake.  It is the equivalent of search engine gold.

How are search engines gamed?

On the surface, the links to a website would appear to indicate that people find the website useful and informative.  However, a particularly aggressive SEO expert servicing multiple sites can actually fake this aspect pretty easily.  So the approach has limited value.

The number of times a word appears in a site or that a company name appears in other sites would also seem to be a good measure.  When website developers figured this part out, they began to create pages loaded with words just to attract search engine traffic.  The search engines responded by developing techniques to detect duplicative content and reducing the rank of websites with duplicative content.

In the next round, some nefarious search engine optimizers decided that if they could not effectively raise their client site’s rank, they would take their competitors down.  So they have developed extensive techniques to duplicate content on “behalf” of the competitor they want to take out.

Now the search engine has to attempt to determine whether the duplicative content was posted by the site’s website development team or a competitor, which is very difficult indeed.  This approach can be used for site links as well.

In the end it becomes very difficult for the search engines to determine whether particular content is real or fake.  Social media done well is hard to fake. It grows slowly over time and is genuinely shared with other people.  It is the type of content that search engines love.



Short Answer: It’s real. It’s harder to fake. Search engines love it.

Long Answer:

Website marketing professionals and search engines both need each other; but they also have vested interest in masking many of their techniques.

Your online marketing strategy should focus getting people to your site and then converting them into clients and customers. Most new website visitors will come to your site because a search engine provides a link. The more the online marketing strategy can be built around the rules of the search engines, the more website visitors the solutions will generate.

The search engines exist to sell advertising; just like radio and television. The advertising revenue is based on how many people use the search engine, which is based on the quality of the search results. Since there are so many websites, they have created software tools called robots to scan the web for content. Since these programs are automatic and require very little human interaction, the search engines must guard against the ranking system from being discovered in full.

Of the types of criteria that search engines use to determine what it is in a website, social media is the most real and the hardest to fake. It is the equivalent of search engine gold.

How are search engines gamed?

On the surface, the links to a website would appear to indicate that people find the website useful and informative. However, a particularly aggressive SEO expert servicing multiple sites can actually fake this aspect pretty easily. So the approach has limited value.

The number of times a word appears in a site or that a company name appears in other sites would also seem to be a good measure. When website developers figured this part out, they began to create pages loaded with words just to attract search engine traffic. The search engines responded by developing techniques to detect duplicative content and reducing the rank of websites with duplicative content.

In the next round, some nefarious search engine optimizers decided that if they could not effectively raise thei

Short Answer: It’s real.  It’s harder to fake.  Search engines love it.

Long Answer:

Website marketing professionals and search engines both need each other; but they also have vested interest in masking many of their techniques.

Your online marketing strategy should focus getting people to your site and then converting them into clients and customers.  Most new website visitors will come to your site because a search engine provides a link.  The more the online marketing strategy can be built around the rules of the search engines, the more website visitors the solutions will generate.

The search engines exist to sell advertising; just like radio and television.  The advertising revenue is based on how many people use the search engine, which is based on the quality of the search results.  Since there are so many websites, they have created software tools called robots to scan the web for content.  Since these programs are automatic and require very little human interaction, the search engines must guard against the ranking system from being discovered in full.

Of the types of criteria that search engines use to determine what it is in a website, social media is the most real and the hardest to fake.  It is the equivalent of search engine gold.

How are search engines gamed?

On the surface, the links to a website would appear to indicate that people find the website useful and informative.  However, a particularly aggressive SEO expert servicing multiple sites can actually fake this aspect pretty easily.  So the approach has limited value.

The number of times a word appears in a site or that a company name appears in other sites would also seem to be a good measure.  When website developers figured this part out, they began to create pages loaded with words just to attract search engine traffic.  The search engines responded by developing techniques to detect duplicative content and reducing the rank of websites with duplicative content.

In the next round, some nefarious search engine optimizers decided that if they could not effectively raise their client site’s rank, they would take their competitors down.  So they have developed extensive techniques to duplicate content on “behalf” of the competitor they want to take out.

Now the search engine has to attempt to determine whether the duplicative content was posted by the site’s website development team or a competitor, which is very difficult indeed.  This approach can be used for site links as well.

In the end it becomes very difficult for the search engines to determine whether particular content is real or fake.  Social media done well is hard to fake. It grows slowly over time and is genuinely shared with other people.  It is the type of content that search engines love.

r client site’s rank, they would take their competitors down. So they have developed extensive techniques to duplicate content on “behalf” of the competitor they want to take out.

Now the search engine has to attempt to determine whether the duplicative content was posted by the site’s website development team or a competitor, which is very difficult indeed. This approach can be used for site links as well.

In the end it becomes very difficult for the search engines to determine whether particular content is real or fake. Social media done well is hard to fake. It grows slowly over time and is genuinely shared with other people. It is the type of content that search engines love.

Website Design Strategies for Mobile Phones—Should I Use Flash?

Monday, October 25th, 2010

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is maybe.

What is Flash and why would I think of using it?

Flash is a tool web developers and designers use to create sites that have motion, beautiful graphics, smooth page transitions, incorporate video, and more.  A well done Flash site is really pretty.  If that is by far your main objective or if you have money to develop a separate mobile site, then go for it.

Some Practical Starting Points:

For your online marketing efforts to be successful, your website content needs to be viewed by as many visitors as possible.  All of it needs to be indexed by the search engines.

Many mobile phones and tablet PC’s in use today, like the iPad, cannot display any Flash content.  NONE.

The newest Droid phones can display Flash content; but based on reviews on the internet, there is some dispute about the quality of the playback.

Apple is at war with Adobe, and in September 2010 Apple decided that it would no longer ship iMac’s with the Flash player installed.  Remember the browser war between Netscape and Microsoft.  It took a few years to resolve before Netscape was absorbed by other Microsoft competitors.

Some people get the best of both worlds by building a different web design for mobile devices versus tablets and regular screen computers.  The visual screen space is so different between these devices that the idea has real merit if you have the time and money.

Many JavaScript libraries like jQuery are getting much, much better at duplicating the look and feel of the Flash player, but they are not quite there yet.  However, these libraries typically load faster and use few system resources.

In the future, more phones will have the processing power to handle the Flash player effectively if Adobe does not increase the size of the program to much.  Eventually the problem may go away.  However, other, even more efficient solutions may be available by then.

My Recommendation:

A website built entirely in Flash is a good online marketing strategy only if you need the type of brand identity created by its awesome look.  In that case, you will likely need a separate site for mobile devices.

A website design strategy built around jQuery (or another JavaScript library) and server side scripting (like php) offers the better alternative with the potential for faster page loads, a similar look and feel, and much more accessibility.  If you still need to use Flash in selected areas, then do so.

How many main navigation links should a website have?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The general rule of thumb is no more than 6-7 main navigation links.  The mind can generally absorb about that many links without having to consciously read and think about the situation at hand.  If you do not believe me, go to some random sites and try it.  (There are always sites around with too many main navigation links.)

This rule does not mean you are required to have 6-7 links.  If you can describe your company or non-profit in fewer links, then do so.

If you need more main links, then you will need to group your information and create sub-navigation for some of your links.  You might group information by type of client you expect, or type of visitor.  For instance a non-profit might choose to have a group of links for volunteers, another for donors, and another for program participants.  You can create the sub-groups as either a separate sub-navigation or as part of a drop-down menu.  Good website programing can make these links appear quickly so that someone can get to the information they need quickly.

An Example of How Social Media Gets Recognized by Search Engines

Monday, August 16th, 2010

The power of social media within the world wide web is quite strong.  If you have an active profile in a social media platform and you have active information in that profile, Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc will notice.  I first noticed it when I realized that my profiles in LinkedIn were popping up high on the search engines.  Then we built a site around a social media platform called Elgg.  Although the site has still not gone live, the profile shows up pretty high if you search for Eric Hutton in Nashville.  (Evidently, there are several prominent Eric Hutton’s, so the word “Nashville” is important.)  The link is here:  http://onemillionspeakers.com/pg/profile/mtguyot (at the time of publishing).

All of this means that Elgg would be a great tool for  any company or office made up of semi-autonomous professionals, such as a real estate firm, a law practice, an accounting practice, etc.  It all depends on having the right platform and then using it correctly to get your message out.

SEO–So Close Yet So Far

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I met a new client the other day at a networking event that paid someone to help his site get found in Google/Yahoo/Bing etc.  (We developers call that Search Engine Optimization or SEO.)  He got good results.  More people found his site.

The only thing is that some of his clients were offended when they discovered he did photography for “models.”  He began to fear that he was losing business since people might think he was willing to do more risque items than a simple head shot or fashion spread for a portfolio piece. While such distinctions may not matter in big cities on the coasts, it makes a big difference in the rural South.

The lesson is that someone good at SEO can get your site found for any number of things.  What really matters though is whether they get you found for searches that relate to your business.  Proper Search Engine Optimization will affect the words displayed to your web visitors.  Make sure the person helping you with these tasks are cognizant of how you want to market your services.

Volunteer Meeting and Donation Collection Today

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Do You See a Need in Nashville for Flood Relief?

Do You Want to Help Your Neighbors Recover?

Do You Want to Make Nashville a Great Place to Live?


Then come to our our organizational meeting for Flood Relief Teams, sponsored by the Green Hills Rotary Club.


What:

Flood Relief Team organizational meeting

Purpose::

The purpose of our Flood Relief Teams is to assist families and seniors with immediate clean-up and also moral support. Come to find out how you can be plugged in or just to donate items. (See list below.)

When:

Thursday, May 6th at 5:30 p.m.

Where:

Green Hills Public Library at the corner of Greybar Ln and Benham Ave off Hillsboro Rd. (map)

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=114874061865062

Telephone Contact: Lynda at 615-665-9599

Items being collected:

  • diapers
  • baby formula
  • heavy trash bags
  • bottled water
  • masks, work gloves
  • peanut butter
  • fruit cups, bananas, apples
  • small toiletries (tooth paste, soap, deodorant)
  • mold retardants (green friendly only)

If there are any late breaking news items, you can check out the page www.asitethatworks.com/flood/  (As of noon today, this is the same content in both places.)

Thank you for your assistance.

    Please come back when we have finished our re-branding and have republished this site