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Become an Authority and Increase your Search Rank


19. November 2009 11:44

Arrow pointing upwards

Authority in the business world is a powerful tool, it demands respect, trust and admiration.
Authority also plays a big part in online marketing since Google’s PageRank® algorithm determines websites’ authority and ranks them accordingly.

If people think your website is important enough to link to then so will search engines.  The more authority you gain from people linking to you from their website/blog/social bookmarking page etc the greater your rank will become in search engines such as Google.

In order to to become an authority that others link to online you need a website with indispensable content that demonstrates your expertise, rather than a website that simply claims expertise.

Become an authority by learning all you can about your niche and sharing your knowledge online.

Authority is all about perception, perceived authority can outrank actual authority because what other people say about you is more important than what you say about yourself.

Rules for Building Authority Online

  1. Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from everyone else?
  2. Get a professional website design and branding
  3. Make friends with influential people in your industryuse social networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn as well as traditional networking events
  4. Don’t sell to people… Educate them and demonstrate your knowledge to build trust and authority
  5. Create indispensable content that other people will want to share with their peers
  6. Grab people’s attention - write killer headlines and stand-firsts
  7. Build a subscriber base – get people listening to what you have to say
  8. Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Picture used under Creative Commons from PaperThinSerge

Web Development and Design Process


31. October 2009 18:54

Creating an effective website that will generate sales involves a number of different skills and processes to work in harmony. 

  1. Branding – Creating a brand identity or defined proposition for your company.
  2. Web Design – Designing a website incorporating the brand identity and features required.
  3. Web Development – Building a website from the web design visuals.
  4. Copyrighter – Writing killer sales copy.
  5. Search Engine Marketing – Optimising and marketing your website through organic and/or pay-per-click channels.
website-process

If all goes to plan, the development process will result in a clear and focused website that:

Read more about the web development process here.

If you’re still not convinced you need a website, read our post: Why do I need a website for my business.

Picture used under Creative Commons from veribatim

The Web Development Process


22. August 2009 17:56

From an initial client brief through to site launch the web development process can be divided up into a number of stages.  Here is a quick overview of what is involved in each stage. 

Analysis

The analysis stage involves talking to the client to gather requirements and determining the websites objectives.

The analysis stage will ensure the team understand the client's needs which is vital in ensuring the project delivers a solution that achieves the client's objectives.

Skills and resources required to complete the project will be assessed and a project plan will be put in place to deliver the website in line with the client's requirements.

A cost to deliver the project will be calculated and a proposal sent to the client.

Information Architecture & User Experience Specification

Assuming the client is happy to proceed and a signed proposal and deposit have been received, the specification stage will begin.

This involves defining how the information contained in the website will be presented in the form of a sitemap and set of wire frames diagrams.  These help develop the hierarchy, structure and navigation of the web pages that form the website and how each page will be laid out structurally. 

This stage is important as it will effect how users locate the information on your site they are looking for, a poorly structured site can hinder potential customers, which may mean fewer sales if they can't find what they are looking for quickly enough.

If the website contains interactivity that cannot be captured by a wireframe or sitemap, a functional spec will be written to communicate the intended functionality.

Web Content

Ideally the web copy should be sourced from the client before the web design stage as the content forms a large proportion of the design and the length of the copy on key pages can influence how a page is laid out and designed.

Where possible professionally written web copy is preferred as it will ideally include keywords and phrases to assist the search engine optimisation process.

Once the copy has been written another copywriter should proof-read it for typos, style and inconsistencies.

Web Design

A web designers job will involve taking output from the first three stages of the development process (the client brief, web copy, site map and wireframes) together with any existing corporate branding to produce a design for the website.

Web Development

Following the client approval of the design, the development phase can begin.  This stage will see the design transformed into HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Depending on the requirements of the client, a content management system may be built onto the website to allow the client to make website amends through an easy to use administration panel.

Once complete, a prototype will be deployed to a test website so the client can submit feedback.

Quality Assurance

The QA testing phase aims to ready the website for launch. 

The website will be tested on a number of popular web browsers and versions (Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome), platforms (Apple Mac, PC) and monitor sizes.

The website code will be checked for errors and conformity to W3C guidelines for HTML and CSS.  Web accessibility compliance will also be checked.

The site will be inspected for broken links and missing images, and any forms on the site will be rigorously tested.

Deployment

The deployment of the website will differ depending if the site is new or a redesign of an existing website.  It generally involves migrating databases and website files to a live server, pointing domain name(s), setting up mailboxes and generally ensuring the site is running smoothly.

Deploying a website that is replacing an existing website is more involved as it requires special instructions in-place to ensure users who have bookmarked pages of the old site will be redirected to the most appropriate page on the new website.  This also helps search engines update its index.

Website Promotion

This stage is vital to ensure you get visitors and potential customers arriving at your new website. 

Depending on the most appropriate strategy for your website this can include search engine marketing, search engine optimisation techniques and or traditional offline marketing.

Maintenance and Updating

Most websites will require updating every now and then to keep them current, these may be simple content updates made through a content management system or slight changes to the design/navigation which require technical assistance.

Occasionally a bug or error might be discovered with the website and need correcting.

Organic SEO Takes Time and Effort


9. August 2009 18:48

Like an old tree that takes time to mature, so does an SEO campaignIf you require your website to attract new customers from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing then read on.

Search Engine Optimisation is important and should play a key role in defining the content and structure of your website before you even consider hiring a web developer, but SEO doesn't stop when the website goes live, a search engine friendly website is only part of the optimisation process.

SEO is a continual process and can be broken up into two categories, off-page optimisation and on-page optimisation.  On-page optimisation ensures your website is search engine friendly and optimised for your target keywords and phrases, but a search engine friendly website alone is rarely enough to drive traffic to your site unless your business is a very niche market.  To improve your search engine ranking you will need to perform some off-page optimisation to establish your website's reputation and authority.

Off-page Optimisation

Off-page optimisation is the process of building reputation for your website content which in turn aims to increase your ranking in search engines for your target keywords and phrases.  Reputation on the web is measured in backlinks to your website.  Google calculates your website's reputation with its PageRank algorithm and the other main search engines use similar ranking methods.

Link Building

There are a number of methods and strategies involved in gaining reputation, but unfortunately most of them require time and effort to acquire.  These include:

  • Creating link bait with a blog (creating content other people want to link to)
  • Reciprocal linking (swapping links with other websites)
  • Purchasing links - buying links is a violation of Google's webmaster guidelines
  • Asking similar/complementary organisations for a link to your website
  • Promoting via social networking sites (e.g. social bookmarking sites like delicious.com, and social media sites like digg.com)
  • Forum posting
  • Press releases
  • Directory listings

Not all Backlinks are Equal

The best links you can get to your website are links from authority websites whose sector/business/topic closely relates to your website. If you are building links just to build PageRank you are going about the process in the wrong way, build links that ultimately help humans find your site from related websites.  If you do this you won't go too far wrong, just beware that Google does not like the link building process as it undermines the PageRank system.  So please read Google's Webmaster Guidelines and stick to them.

Aim for quality links over quantity, and remember SEO requires time and patience.  Don't expect miracles over night.  If you can't wait for the fruits of your SEO to take effect you should consider pay-per-click advertising as an interim solution.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Scudsone.

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Should I try a Free Website Builder or use a Professional Web Agency?


7. August 2009 21:57

There are a lot of free website builders cropping up on the internet lately, and during a recession it can be tempting for a small business or sole trader to use a free or cheap "pay monthly" website builder rather than forking out a lump sum to a professional web design agency.

A professionally designed site will almost always surpass a cheap or free out-of-the-box solution in almost everyway, but don't dismiss them straight outright.  A lot of the website builders have free trials that allow you to demo the websites to see what you get.

Get a Web Presence!

Studies show that half of the UKs small businesses don't have a website, and half of those businesses think that a website wouldn't deliver any real benefits.

These businesses might find that the low cost of an off the shelf website builder package could tempt them into creating their first website.  Chances are they won't regret the decision!

If you are one of the businesses without a web presence, you should read our post entitled why do I need a website for my business.

Upgrade to a Professional Website

After trialling an out-of-the-box website, the business owner will have a fairly good idea what the package can and can't do and be in a good position to create a list of requirements for a custom designed website.  These may include:

Paying for a Website

Like the majority of businesses web agencies are also being effected by the recession and as such many are prepared to go the extra mile to win new clients.  This can work to the advantage of a small business by being able to negotiate on price or get more website for the budget.
You may also find many agencies will also allow you to spread the cost of a website over a number of months to lessen the burden.

Contact us today to enquire about our competitive prices and monthly payment plans!