08. January 2013 · Comments Off on Digital Snooping · Categories: Business Issues · Tags:

Several years ago people had the idea that if their web site got enough traffic, as demonstrated by Google Analytics, they could monetize their web site by selling ad space.  You can still sell ad space but now it might be linked to data about who visits your web site and what they click on.  Data is collected via cookies that run whenever someone visits your web site.  You instruct your web developer to build cookies to collect data about your visitors such as IP address, recently visited web sites, auto fill text, and so on.  How data is collected, aggregated and sold to make a profit via online ad auctions is told in The New York Times article “Your Online Attention, Bought in an Instant” (Nov 18, 2012). I highly recommend you read it, if just to understand how it affects you as a consumer.  You’ll also be interested, if you intend to advertise your business on other people’s web sites.
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10. October 2012 · Comments Off on Copyright & Licensing · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: ,

Deborah's blogSeveral years ago I built a website for my client screenwriter/poet Deborah George Streit.  Recently she decided to start a blog to publish a set of her short fiction pieces.  Part of the process for her was sorting out how to handle issues of copyright and sharing.  She worried about others seeing her work online and lifting it.  Also, she wasn’t sure how publishing specific work online was going to affect her ability to get that work picked up by other publishers.
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11. September 2012 · Comments Off on To Blog or Not To Blog · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , , ,

Almost every client asks me “Should I have a blog?”

What is a blog

A typical blog format is an online journal. Dated entries are displayed in reverse chronological order – the most recent entry appears first.  The format can be anything from a simple list of entries to a complex multi-column layout.

veerle blog

2 column layout

 

inspiration bit blog

multi-column layout

Blogging means you have something interesting to write about daily, weekly, or monthly.

Do you need a blog or a web site or both

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07. June 2012 · Comments Off on How Much Does it Cost? · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , ,

Clients are always concerned about the cost of a web site.  Web site production is unfamiliar territory for most people and they don’t know what to expect.  This post helps you understand some of the factors that affect web site cost.  Here I discuss a custom web site designed and built specifically for you.  This post doesn’t cover WordPress web sites, WordPress blogs or commercial templates.

Think of paying for a web site as you would a car.  You can buy anything from a small scooter (simple web site) to a six figure sports car (Flash web site).  In other words, there’s something available for any budget.  Cars have been around for over 100 years and everyone has an idea how much car a certain amount of money will buy.

The difficulty with web sites is that people don’t yet have a good understanding of cost and value.  How do multiple columns, a lot of illustrations, an online store, video, or audio affect cost?  What functions do you need to see a direct pay back in your business and what functions are simply eye candy that won’t provide significant value?
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24. April 2012 · Comments Off on Web Site Templates · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , , , , ,

“80% of what we perceive is visual information.”

A Web Site is Mandatory

Today, if you have a business, you need a web site to be taken seriously. Everyone realizes it and everyone wants a web site. But paying for a web site is expensive. It costs a lot because a skilled professional spends a lot of hours collating materials, creating a design, and programming the code behind it all.

Cutting Costs

There are less expensive alternatives to hiring someone to build you a custom web site. You could  write a blog, create a Facebook page, or use a template. This post investigates the pros and cons of using templates to create your web site.
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I learned about the Paste Magazine web site while in the car listening to Here and Now.  The print edition of Paste Magazine ended for financial reasons in spite of winning national awards.  The online edition continues but will switch from free to subscription this September.  I was intrigued from a business perspective.  Will an online subscription based magazine of this type fly?  Its subject is popular music, not a big money making proposition these days, and its target audience is generic youth.

I checked out the site and loved it for the following reasons:
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29. October 2009 · Comments Off on Everyone Wants Their Web Site to Show Up First in a Search! · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , , , ,

search

Does it take a search party to find you on the web?

(Photo from the Mel Brooks movie “Young Frankenstein”)

Before computers, how did a local business get noticed? Besides the usual marketing activities, you could  list your business in the yellow pages.  Remember the days when businesses named themselves “AAA Roofing” or “AAA Rent A Car” so they would show up first in their category? These days people won’t usually look for a business or service in the yellow pages.  They look on the web.  So what can you do to make sure your web site shows up high on the list returned by a search?

Make sure your web pages contain critical information

Practice common sense when designing your web site and writing the content. For example, if you own a floral business, it’s unrealistic to expect your business to come up first on a search when there are 28,700,000 other florists out there.   However, a search engine, such as Google, is happy to list you on the first page when:

  1. Google recognizes the location of the user doing the search
  2. And then matches the search to a business and a zip code.

If you’ve included location and zip code information on your web site, you’ll show up at the top of the list. Including location information is common sense but you’d be surprised how many web sites make people – and Google – dig for it.

Two for one: good writing enhances search

There are more common sense practices to follow that enhance the user interface, impart information, and help people navigate your site:

  • Ascertain key phrases to identify your business and message and use them strategically, especially in page titles and headings.
  • Write straightforward text and organize it logically.
  • Present it with legible, user intuitive typography.

When you follow these common sense rules, you also enhance the ability of a search engine to index your site and promote it.

SEO and Who is that man behind the curtain?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)  is the common sense practices I’ve just described and anyone who is intelligent and thoughtful can do it as they write. Marketing companies charge big money to “promote your site” and you’ll pay thousands of dollars per month for it, but I’m skeptical.

I was hired to write web page content for a business I’ll call The Widget Company.   What I wrote was then sent to a 27-year-old Vice President of SEO (that was his title, really!) at a high priced marketing firm. (That a 27-year-old could be a vice president should be the first tip off something isn’t right.)

To increase the probability the web site would come up first whenever a user typed “widget” on Google or other search engine,  he stuck the word “widget” in front of every possible noun he could, often creating awkward noun strings that impacted readability.  And stuck the word “widget” inside of product names, creating incorrect product names.  He also introduced grammar and spelling errors. For this The Widget Company paid a retainer of several thousand a month.  Does anyone besides me smell a bad deal?

Why is The Widget Company paying for it?  There is one answer – fear.  The management doesn’t understand technology and this creates insecurity.  And, as long as everyone else is doing it, they’re afraid they’ll be left behind if they don’t do it, too.

Frankly I’m skeptical of  paying a bunch of money to SEO salesmen preying on people’s lack of experience with technology.  Common sense, good writing, and strategic online marketing along with intelligent web design will boost your visibility.  You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars for an SEO specialist.

Update, Jan. 26, 2010

Four months after I wrote this post, the Boston Globe published an article that echoes my opinion. It includes the quote “Being charged $5,000 a month to manage the SEO process is crazy.” You can read the entire article at In Web world, a successful marketing effort means gaining inside track on searches

Update, March 27, 2011

More info from another Boston Globe article (that borrowed my analogy regarding the yellow pages!): Google analyzes more than 200 factors when ranking web pages and Google tweaks its ranking software 500 times a year!

 

Commentary by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, smart web design for businesses who want a unique and effective presence on the internet.

Copyright 2011, Alice Gebura, All Rights Reserved.