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design & marketing blog

Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

Make Sure Your Website Content is Legitimate

April 28th, 2011

In February, Google made a significant change to its search algorithm in order to penalize and weed out shady SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing, content copying, etc. The Google change has actually forced some companies who practiced such tactics to layoff significant portions of their workforce because their Google search engine result listings dropped so severely. Take a look at this brief article from Website Magazine to read more: Crop Devastation – Google’s Farmer Update Retools Rankings.

As we’ve preached for years, your overall strategy should be to write Website content for your users, not  just to bait Google with keywords. Even if this tactic works for a brief time, in the long run this strategy will be detrimental to your online presence as has been demonstrated by Google over the last few months.

Search engine optimization is still a legitimate and very important component of your online strategy. It just has to be implemented correctly and with correct expectations need to be set for the client by a legitimate SEO firm (which can be hard to find). There is no shortcut or get rich quick scheme with SEO regardless of all the many claims of so-called SEO professionals who fill our in-boxes with their spam. As I’ve observed before, if these people are really so good at SEO why don’t they impart their skills on their own Website and reap the benefit instead of sending out spam?

To get started down the right path simply write your Website content and messaging solely for the benefit or your prospects and customers; in other words with true unique value. With that done then hire a legitimate SEO firm and copywriter to insure that your content is in line with your target keyword market which may require some slight adjustments to your copy.

There is a lot more to a long term SEO strategy but the above will give any Website a great foundation and insure that they are positioned for a successful future.

The Power of Words

April 19th, 2011

Trouble with Firefox and Windows Explorer After Windows 7 Update?

April 15th, 2011

Microsoft pushed a large Windows 7 automatic update package last night.

You may of found that after the mandatory reboot your Internet Explorer and Firefox will open and freeze up, display a blank window with no menus or control menu or buttons, or display the normal interface but not allow you to access the Web.

This problem is likely being caused by the incompatibility of one of your existing Windows 7 third party services or start-up items. Following is the process to resolve this issue:

  • Rather than start the troubleshooting by enabling half of the services and rebooting as the article describes, do the following first:
    1. On the services tab check the box “Hide all Microsoft Services” then Disable all, then Apply. Note: always click “Hide all Microsoft Services” before enabling or disabling any service through this troubleshooting process.
    2. On the Startup Tab, disable all, apply then ok and reboot.
    3. Check your Internet Explorer and Firefox; they are probably working again.
    4. Now go into msconfig (using the Microsoft support article instructions) and go to the services tab, hide all Microsoft services, enable all the services, OK, and reboot (notice that all the startup items are still disabled).
      • If IE and Firefox are working normally still, then you know the problem is with an incompatibility in one of the Startup items. Proceed to that tab and use the instructions provided in the Microsoft article for “enabling half the services” (but you will be enabling half of the startup items).  Eventually you’ll figure out which third party startup item is causing the problem. After you find the offending Startup item then enable all of your Services and reboot a final time.
      • If IE and Firefox are not working then start the process of “enabling half of the services” until you either find the service causing the problem. After you find the offending service then enable all your Startup items and reboot a final time.
  • I don’t recommend proceeding to the last step in the Microsoft article “To restore your Normal startup” which if taken will nullify all the troubleshooting you just performed.  Leave the settings on “Selective startup” However, you may need to manually enable future services or startup items in the future for them to work properly.

Secrets of Successful Blogging

March 29th, 2011

Blogging can be compared to retail in terms of generating “foot traffic.” Many people venture into retailing because they enjoy interacting directly with customers, they’re passionate about a product or service and they’re certain that others will be as well. So they’ll lease a storefront, flip the sign on the front door to read “Open,” and wait for the customers to rush in and buy their goods. However, what separates a successful retailer from a bankrupt retailer is the realization that rewards are derived from hard work, quality, attention to detail, and evolving a passion to match the market need. Retailers can even spend a significant portion of their budget to advertise their product or service, but if they haven’t addressed these variables, they’ll never generate interest nor will they develop a loyal following. And yes, these same principals apply to blogging.

So why do so many blogs fail? In my estimation, I’d narrow it down to these 5 reasons:

CONSISTENCY – The blogger has failed to consistently develop content on a regular schedule; which in turn leaves whatever viewer he or she has previously attracted clueless as to when updates or newsworthy items will appear on the blog. Although many business owners say they don’t have the time to blog consistently, they need to change their perception of the blogging function and recognize it as a legitimate portion of their sales and marketing activities.

RELEVANCE – Just because a blogger may have a passion for nude para sailing, that activity doesn’t necessarily equate to like minded interest within the public at large. Similar to the retailer example above, a blogger must evolve their passion to address a market need. One unfortunate characteristic of our culture is that people are too busy in general to be interested in the passions of others; what they desire is content that emotionally engages them and equates to their own interests. This isn’t to say that bloggers can’t structure a message to endear their passions to others, but merely a warning to keep the interests of the audience in mind. In fact, regardless of the subject matter, successful blogs capture the emotions of an audience by making them laugh, cry, ponder, or get angry. Even nude para sailing could become a relevant blogging topic if the subject matter is able to emotionally engage the reader.

AESTHETICS – No matter the content, people in general still appreciate a well-designed layout for a Web page that is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. By maintaining a well designed Web page, bloggers are able to enhance credibility and improve the viral component of their distribution – because who really wants to refer a terrible looking Web site to a friend or professional acquaintance?

COMPREHENSIVE MARKETING– Going back to the retailer example, one cannot simply flip the sign on the front door to read “Open” and expect customers to pour in. Generating blog traffic will take effort; the content must be distributed out to a targeted group of readers in order to generate interest. Thankfully, utilizing technologies such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and viral social components such as Facebook, Vertical Response, Twitter and even the “Send This to a Friend” link are all viable methods to help generate interest in a particular blog. Additionally, bloggers should must incorporate some good ol’ fashioned personal promotion. The power of simply honestly asking your friends and professional network to help spread the word is highly underrated and under utilized. Be honest and simply ask your sphere of contacts (family, friends, neighbors, work contacts, etc.) to read your blog and pass it along to anyone they know who might appreciate it. Tell them plainly that you’re trying to grow the awareness of your business. If you’re truly passionate about the value you are offering your customers AND you’ve taken the time to address the first three components this tactic can have amazing results.

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