Saturday, June 12, 2010

LOVING Blogger Right Now

Ok, I just saw and used the BRAND NEW BLOG TEMPLATE DESIGNER - on - (where I proudly host my own blog) and while I'm a little worried that it is SO easy to design your own blog with these tools - (since I offer blog design as a service) I have to say - it's AWESOME.

You can easily select layout, theme, colors and your own elements such as font colors, background pattern or image - to make your blog stand out and be unique.

It appears - that now anyone can have a GREAT looking blog without any trouble at all - and just a few minutes of fiddling around back-end of Blogger. Could life be any better? Blogger is free - and now you can design it on your own in just a few minutes.

Seriously - With all the different layout, customization options - I can't see how any two blogs could be exactly alike using Blogger's new template design tool.

But certainly - (hopefully) people will still need help with custom graphics and special touches on their Blogger blogs.

If not - I can start selling more WordPress customizations.... :)

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SEO, Social Media and Your Website


SOOOO many clients ask me about search engine optimization, and then I spend an hour typing out this extensive twenty-three paragraph email on "tips and tricks" to help their site be seen on the search engines. While my typing skills are great, (ok, maybe not great - but good enough) this was taking a lot of my time, and I don't have much to spare. So, I just decided to write a blog post about it.

When I do a website for any client (informational website) I do my best to make sure that the markup is up to W3C Standards, I will plug in the META data, try to use useful file names and all that jazz. And certainly - you can hire me to help you with site optimization.

In fact, I am going to put together a basic "SEO/Social Networking Support" package in the next few weeks to support my clients with who have SEO and social networking support needs. While I can NOT guarantee rankings - I CAN guarantee that EVERY SITE OWNER should be already be making sure these simple (but time consuming) things are done - because along with valid markup and META data, they are things that will help keep your site in the natural running for rankings.

So, before I get to putting together a package - and - if you are a 'do-it-your-selfer' - you can use these tips to start a basic SEO/Internet Marketing plan for your website.

Everything I learned - I learned from trial and error, fiddling around with my Google accounts, and books. Great websites like SEO BOOK (GREAT tutorials, forums, articles tools and such!). Testing what people like, what they don't like - what they click on - what they don't. It's been several years in the process, putting websites online, watching how search engines pick them up, index and rank them - and the parameters that control rankings constantly change and evolve. And - every site and it's needs, target audience, etc - is different. But there are some basic things that I can tell you EVERY website owner should be doing to promote new traffic to their website.

1. Get This Book.
The Ultimate Guide To Search Engine Optimization - this book speaks volumes about both the basics, and tons of tricks to help enhance your site's visibility on search engines. What's best about it - is that it's written in easy-to-read language. You don't have to be a rocket scientist (or HTML expert) to read it. Read it from start to finish - because it covers the basics of beginning with an accessible, optimized website, then on to cover the basics of SEO, (META data, titles, alt tags, keywords, linking) PPC management, (Pay-Per-Click) internet marketing, article writing, and conversion testing and tracking. Jon Rognerud - the author, is quite the expert. And while you're there - sign up to download his FREE SEO Guide, and his FREE SEO TIPS by email. They're gems.

2. Get Online.
Use the free stuff, BABY! Get a BLOG (we can design a really nice blog design for you) - and get on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, - create a page (or, lens) on Squidoo - and then (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) spend a few hours every week doing something with it! For your blog - write something about your business. Write something about what you do. Offer a special, a valuable piece of information, educate your reader or audience on something they want to hear. But keep it relevant! Don't be writing about tennis - if you're selling telephones. Unless of course, your telephone is a special telephone that is just for tennis players. Then, share your blog post on Facebook, Twitter - anywhere you can! Scream it to the world!

AND HERE'S A BONUS - Jon Rognerud - the author of aforesaid gotta-have SEO book - is offering a FREE GUIDE to Facebook called FAST FACEBOOK right now on his website - Learn how and why Facebook can promote your business on the internet.

3. Get Listed.
Submit your site to directories (again - relevant ones!). Get listed in the general directories (DMOZ is free, Yahoo! Directory has an annual fee) in the proper categories. There are also content-specific directories where you can get listed. For example - Kari and Company is listed in the Website Design Directory. Obviously, I wouldn't want to be listed on the top Hungarian Basket Weaving sites. Find directories of websites that are relevant to your business and check out their listing options. Some are free, some are paid. But even the paid ones are usually pretty reasonable.

4. Use the SEARCH ENGINE's FREE tools!
I am talking about Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools - and most importantly - if you have a brick and mortar - Google Places! (formerly Local Business Center). Sign up for your free account, integrate these free tools (and any others you can figure out!) and do the same thing on, and anywhere else you can do it.

Most people don't have time to do all this stuff, and for some people - it doesn't come easy. That is where I have decided to put a package together to support people who own websites and don't have time to track the traffic, write blogs, network and promote. Until then - hope these tips helps the do-it-yourselfers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Time For A New Website Design - FOR US!

Well, the time came - and so it was - for a website redesign of our own little place on the internet.

Kim was reviewing our site - and our visitors to our site. She felt that our site was boring and a bit outdated. She thought it needed to 'pop' a bit more.

We spend so much time designing other small business websites and Volusion Store website designs, that we haven't even really taken the time to update our site - it's layout or look and feel - in over two years. And you know what - she was right. Our website needed some attention.

So - we took the week and redesigned the website, added some of our favorite colors and updated our content to keep it fresh. We kept the filenames the same, as well as most of the copy - in hopes that we don't lose our SEO rankings. Redesigns can often hurt or 'reset' rankings on the search engines, so we tried to change only the stylesheet and graphics - and then we pruned the rest of the files that were outdated on our server.

Every website needs to be freshened up from time to time. But this doesn't mean you have to totally redesign your entire site. In most cases, you can simply change out a few graphics here and there - change the font, colors or homepage a bit - and your visitors will know that you are on the ball when it comes to monitoring your website and keeping things new and exciting.

We hope our visitors will like what we've done!