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3 The Significance of SEO in Web Design

photo credit: SEO Scrabble via photopin (license)

photo credit: SEO Scrabble via photopin (license)

People go online to search for different types of information and this means that your company needs a strong online presence. Many users need to carry out searches before they make a purchase. Your business thus requires a website that will be ranked on the first page of search results. Websites represent companies and have the ability to determine whether or not users will be receptive to them.

Search Results

Having a website is important but in order for it to help your business become more profitable, it needs to be seen in search results whenever searches are carried out using particular keywords. This is based on the tendency of people to search according to what they are looking for, such as product or service.

Websites that do not appear on the first page of search engine results when people carry out searches can be regarded as non-existent among online users. This is why you need to ensure that your site ranks highly for specific keywords so that search engines place your site higher than several others that are related to the same keywords. SEO includes a variety of factors and plays a critical role in web design.

Value of SEO

Web design and SEO work together and more web designers are choosing to integrate SEO when designing websites. It is important for business owners to be aware of how important SEO is in web design and the value it adds to the design process.

A web design that is compatible with SEO is likely to draw more traffic. A website may be attractive and dazzling but if it is not search-engine friendly, you restrict the ability of major search engines to access your content.

If your website content is not readily accessible to search engines, it will not have a high ranking in the search results. Integrating SEO appropriately in your web design includes aspects such as technology, navigation, linking and content.

Content, Keywords and Links

  • The content on your web pages is vital for SEO success. During the process of building your site, it is advisable for the web designer to be aware of what your business entails. This makes it possible for lists of keywords to be selected in the initial stages of development according to what users are likely to search for when looking for information that relates to the site.
  • Content is essential in SEO but should be used properly to avoid any unethical practices that may lower our ranking or lead to search engines penalizing your site.Strategic and meaningful placement of keywords will help you get a better ranking for your web pages in search results.
  • Adding keywords to content while creating the web pages will help to cut down on the time used to change content on web pages for the purpose of SEO.
  • Link building enables you to have links directed from other credible sites to help you achieve better search engine rankings for your website. In order for quality content and proper link building to yield the best results, web design needs to cater for SEO.

SEO is as critical as the design concepts for your website. If the site is designed while incorporating SEO, the web pages will soon start ranking higher and attracting more users through search engines. Find out how you can analyze a web design company through its portfolio here.

Search Engine Friendly Sites

  • Search engine optimization constitutes a range of things including content, keywords, and title tags. If you are not sure of how to implement SEO, you can consult a professional web design service that will help you create an SEO compliant site.
  • Search engines require relevant and original content along with suitable visual elements such as videos and images. Search engines invest a lot in bandwidth and sites that are easy to crawl through require fewer resources.
  • Web designers create SEO compliant sites that can be crawled faster and easier by search engines. Technology and navigation are among the factors that are considered in search engine optimization. The objective of search engines is to enhance the usability of the web.
  • Make sure that SEO is incorporated into your web design process right from the start. After spending a considerable amount of time, money and effort in creating your site, you need to ensure that as many as people as possible will be able to access it.

Visual Appeal and Ranking

Good web designers are aware of the importance of creating attractive sites with SEO in mind. SEO enables you to get better ranking for your site on the web. When users search for products that are available on your website, they will be able to see it as soon as they type in the keywords.

A higher ranking for your website will increase the possibility of your site getting more clicks. It is important for you to drive more traffic to your website because the people who visit your site may become your customers.

Overall Design

The design of your home page is important because it is the first impression of your website and business that your visitors get. Good web design should leave a lasting and positive impression. It is always a good idea to have a clean and clutter-free home page that will not cause your visitors to leave as soon as they log on.

Consider other aspects such as the sizes of your images, navigation, user and search engine friendliness, colors, and overall design. Responsive design is a popular concept because it involves designing for various devices. With the ongoing advancements in technology and increase in online visitors, SEO practices continue to evolve.

Conclusion

Web designers now have access to more technology and options than they did and this is evident in how advanced web designing has become. When you design a website, the user should always be a priority because this helps to determine SEO rankings. This is based on various technicalities and makes it necessary to always prioritize the end user during the design process.

Web design is beneficial for businesses, customers, and search engines when it is not complex or overwhelming. It should lead to links and content that users need while giving businesses the opportunity to reach more people.

 

 

Jack DawsonJack Dawson is a web developer and UI/UX specialist. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other developers and consumers on platforms. Click here to read more about how you can analyze a web design company through its portfolio.

13 How to Collaborate With a Designer

This post is part of a creative marketing series sponsored by HP

Too often small business owners abdicate important roles to so-called professionals with more experience. The problem with this approach is that nobody has your experience.

Color Wheel

Image majansa via flickr

By that I mean nobody sleeps, eats, drinks and dreams your business like you. So, while it’s usually a good idea to seek the help of professionals, you need to delegate and collaborate to get the best possible result.

One of the most important hats you wear as a business owner is the guardian of all things strategic – you can never give this hat to someone else!

The area of graphic design is one of those “leave it to somebody creative” areas that can be disastrous for the brand without proper collaboration.

Experience with lots of designers over the years tells me that the good ones know this as well and your “I want something that pops” or “I’ll know it when I see it” direction will effectively hobble them from giving you something that will provide the result your brand needs.

Design firms have long used something called a creative brief to help frame the needs of a design project and easily communicate to a designer elements that need to be considered when doing the research and creation of a logo or other design element.

I developed my own creative brief over the years to use as a bit of a process to get closer to the best possible design for the situation and while it’s not foolproof, I’ve encountered plenty of designers that asked if they could get a copy. (You can find examples of creative briefs at scribd)

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43 Crowd

Croutsourcing Design

Marketing podcast with crowdSPRING cofounders Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson – click to listen or right click and Save As to download

I know, I know – another goofy made-up word, but hey, it’s Friday so outsourcing design to the crowd became croutsourcing.

The point is that the web has certainly made it much easier to find great design from around the world and on the flip side created an unlimited market for those wishing to sell their design services.

Some smart folks have built businesses around corralling and managing the introduction and design process and made buying and selling graphic design a snap. As with most innovations, these services have their detractors. The most vocal being some in the design community that feel this drives the price of quality design down and cheapens the value of great design. Whether this is true or not, the web has impacted most industries in a similar fashion. The ultimate answer usually comes from the market’s assessment of the greatest value.

The process in croutsourced design is that you describe a project (in the greatest, brand oriented way you can) and designers in your chosen platform’s community compete for your project. In some cases the designers bid on your work, in others they submit designs in an effort to win a set award. Usually, you, the client, get multiple designs and alterations to work with on the way to a finished project.

The true strength, and possibly longevity, of these organizations lies in the professionalism of their design community. The one that keeps the designers the happiest wins.

The latest innovation in the industry is that your design competition can be open to public view if you choose. Some high profile brands have started to look to this model to get a design done in public view as a PR opportunity. Here’s an example of a public logo contest at 99 Designs and here’s a competition at crowdSPRING for a Tony Robbins web site design.

Here’s a run down of some of the croutsourcing design players that I’ve worked with:

LogoWorks – Actually LogoWorks, an HP company, wouldn’t really qualify as crowd driven in the same manner as these other three as they do offer your design project out for a bit of competition, but it’s a closed process with a fixed price.

99Designs – This was one of the first compete for an award players and has done a nice job putting designers and clients together at very affordable prices.

Elance – The first and biggest of the crowd sourcing community. Elance’s model is a bid for project model and certainly not just focused on design.

crowdSPRING – This is one of the newest players, but they seem to be capturing a lot of buzz and some pretty high profile projects. (I interviewed crowdSPRING cofounders Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson for an episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast – click to listen or right click and Save As to download.)

10 Let Others Help You Sell

istock_000008107178xsmallOne of the fastest ways to build new business is to farm strategic partner opportunities. Approaching other businesses that have your same ideal customer in mind and proposing ways to cross promote, is something every small business should be pursuing. I write about this often as I feel it has so much potential and there are so many creative ways to approach it.

There is one component of this strategy that is often overlooked, but I think offers some very interesting opportunities.

What if you went out there and looked at the other things your customers need and buy and you recruited a team of partners to give you high value samples or trial products to pair with your core offerings as a way to differentiate and sweeten the deal.

Here’s an example that I’ve seen used effectively: A graphic design firm approaches a print shop and convinces them to give 500 free business cards to each of the design firm’s logo customers. Now the design firm has something to add a little spice to their marketing message. (They can also create an affiliate relationship with the print shop for further purchases.) In this example, the print shop wins because they have very little real cost in the business card printing and, let’s face it, won’t that business get new stationary and other printed items with that new logo on it?

There are hundreds of ways to approach this and, done well, a smart marketer can greatly enhance their own core offerings, create referral relationships and add passive revenue streams.

The key is to focus on value not volume. Anyone can go out and sign up for a bunch of affiliate programs and start pumping those into the mix. Or, gather up promotional materials from other businesses to insert in the products you ship. While these approaches may offer some value, I think you can make this strategy a real winner with a little bit of creative thinking.

There are hundreds of high quality partners that would love the introduction to your customers and one of the best ways to do this is through sample products and services. Think in terms of the online model. Many online companies offer 30-60 free trials. Take this same idea out to businesses in your community and start putting together a package of products and services that turn prospect’s heads.

Some idea starters:

  • Be the electrician that gives its customers a free AC checkup and one free drain unclogged
  • Be the marketing consultant that offers a free product trademark review with an IP attorney
  • Be the accountant that gives its customers a free IT and computer network audit
  • Be the retail store that gives 10 minute massages to weary shoppers

Are you starting to get some ideas on how you might attack this? Don’t stop at one pairing, go for several ways to enhance and differentiate your products and services by adding real value from willing partners.

image: iStockphoto

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14 Stunning images the easy way

Images help tell your story in vivid ways. Blog posts come to life, presentation are more interesting, printed materials look richer, and web pages are more appealing. Most people get that but finding the right images and turning them into something useful can be a bit of a costly pain. Help is on the way in terms of low-cost, high quality images and image editing software that is easy to use and low or no cost.

View My Portfolio

Here are some tips for adding and editing images to make your marketing more visually appealing.

iStockphoto – low cost library of royalty free images that cost from $1-5 depending upon the size and resolution needed. You can search by keyword, subject, color, and white space. This is every small business marketer’s dream.

Picasa – Google’s free PC editing software allows you to organize and edit photos easily. You can also store them online using the Picasa service.

Adobe Photoshop Elements – Adobe’s lightweight version of Photoshop comes in at about $99 and does more than most small business owners would need. (The tools to optimize photos for the web is worth the price.)

    Check out some of the online photo editing tools as well. They all offer different features and have free versions.

  • Picture2Life – edit, collage and animate
  • Pixenate – very simple and create your own photo editing
  • Graphita – let’s you play with photos

If you really want to take advantage of the power of images you can start your own photo editing site or add photo editing to your classified or auction site by purchasing Pixinate’s server version

4 Is small business ownership a career?

Johnny Bunko

Dan Pink is the author of two very important books on ideas around careers – Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind. If you own a small business, that’s your current career – but I wonder how many small business owners actually view it that way?

In Free Agent Nation he defined what a lot people were starting to feel, that it was becoming cool to do your own thing, start a business or just jump from project to project.

In A Whole New Mind he revealed a great deal about the nature of the Free Agent Work and how it had changed from information work to strategic, right-brain work.

I caught up with him for a recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast to discuss his latest take on work called The Adventures of Johnny Bunko – The last career guide you will ever need. One of the most intriguing elements of the book is that it’s written in the Japanese comic style known as manga – a book style known in the US primarily by teens, but widely used to communicate every possible topic to kids and adults in Japan.

One of my favorite lessons (there are six in all) is – There is no plan.

Now, Pink has written this book in the point of view of career guide, but every word of it applies to the small business, even if it hadn’t dawned on you that your business is a career.

With that in mind, I share Pink’s notion about “the big plan” – I believe that small business owners need to have an intention, a vision – the big idea, but sometimes you’ve got to let go of just exactly how you get there. Sticking to the plan is what often stifles opportunity. I’m not suggesting that you use this bit of advice as an excuse to tilt at windmills, I’m just saying, create the vision and let go of some of details.

Don’t confuse what I said above as a dis of planning, I’m also a big fan of planning – not because of the end results, a neatly bound document, because of the process and what it means to creating, keeping and growing the vision.

Actively participate in planning, stoke the vision, but understand that sometimes just getting up tomorrow with an open mind and paying attention to what’s happening in this moment is the plan.

5 ScreenFlow screencast studio for Mac

ScreenFlowScreencasting or making a movies by capturing your computer screen is a great way to create tutorial lessons and how to videos. Camtasia, a PC only tool, has ruled the roost for some time in this category leaving Mac users out in the cold a bit. [SnapZPro is a fine program, but lacking in many ways.]

I’ve been experimenting with a new program from Vara Software called ScreenFlow and I’m very impressed so far.

The basic capture function works well without creating giant files. The interface is simple and intuitive, but the editing capabilities are very powerful. One of the coolest things it does is that it allow for multiple source capture. In other words you can record your screen activity and also have an inset recording from an iSight or other camera creating a kind of picture in picture effect. This is really powerful for marketers who want to create very engaging videos with little production time or cost. It’s a great way to create video presentation using PowerPoint of Keynote slides.

At $99 I think this will turn some heads. For now it only works with the Leopard OS.

Looking for design inspiration?

Letthead design boxThe folks at StockLayouts produce the best stock layouts on the planet.

I know that’s a pretty tall order, but one look at the designs and you can tell these are the real deal.

In addition to producing great layouts they have also added some powerful resources for designers and marketers. The latest is a set of designs for letterhead and stationary, mounted and boxed. Each card in the 50 card deck has a business card, letterhead and envelope mounted on a sturdy board. If you ever need to help people make basic design decision, this is an awesome tool.

These handy card decks of professionally-designed layouts will provide you with hundreds of ideas for designing marketing pieces for a wide variety of businesses. Beautifully presented in a superb slide-out box, these at-a-glance cards can be used to help dial in your clients’ preferences, or as a design resource in your office or studio

They also have a set for brochure design. Each box of 50 cards is $24.95 and comes with a coupon for 50% off any single template purchase.

Disclosure: StockLayouts is a strategic partner of the Duct Tape Marketing Coach Network but this is not an affiliate link.

6 I want my iStockphoto fix

Lesa KingI visited with Lesa King, editor of the Graphic Reporter, author the Lynda.com training series – Graphic Secrets for Business Professionals and chief evangelist for iStockphoto for a recent edition of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.

Lesa gave the Duct Tape Marketing Coach network a guided tour of iStockphoto at my annual gathering of coaches. For those of you who may not know about iStockphoto, you simply must. If you use images, illustrations and video clips in your marketing, this is a gold mine. Great, royalty free stock photos, that are easy to find and inexpensive.

    Some of my favorite tips and tricks Lesa shared had to do with ways to find great photos.

  • Do a search and look deeper into the results to find great photos that might not be used by as many folks
  • Search by color to find photos that possess a great deal of a color that better compliments your designs
  • Search by CopySpace to find photos that are composed in a way that lets you add type to certain areas
  • Filter search for shots with people, for orientation and price.

iStockphoto is also a big supporter of Duct Tape Marketing and is offering my readers 10 free credits (good for 5-10 stock photos)

Update: Free credit offer has ended – thanks for such a great response!