Questions & Answers Sign

Website Design. Is it art or is it science?

Questions & Answers Sign

Most client engagements start one of two ways. Either a client needs a brand new website or they have website that just does not seem to be performing to expectations. For many people this is intended to be a very transactional conversation that goes something like this:

Customer: I need a new website, how much will it cost?

Me: What kind of a website?

Customer: Well, I am not sure, you are the professional, but I am gathering quotes so I can make a decision. What do you think it would cost?

Me:???

Clearly, we can provide a quote based upon simple metrics such as how many pages do you think you want? or How fast do you want it?. Even so, it does not get to the root of the question. WHY do you want a website? In most cases, what people are saying is that they want to grow their business, The assumption is then that a new website will do the trick. So in essence, what they are asking is “how much will it cost for me to grow my business?”. This is where many people get it wrong. Both web developers and customers alike are focused on the “what” rather than the “why”. After all, there are MANY (maybe most) people who have websites and it is not growing their business. In fact, I would estimate that if it is buried on the 5th page of Google it is not even being seen! Not a great way to grow your business, regardless of your website’s age.

When the conversation above starts, I try to redirect it away from that what, to the why.

Incyte Website Mockup Layout

We need legitimacy

Some customers just need a place on the web to send people that creates legitimacy. It is the more recent version of “hanging your shingle”. You just began your business and want to look to the outside like you are established and have been around for awhile. Often Lawyers, Accountants and other service providers trend towards these types of sites.

We want online sales

Other customers are have a great product or service and want to share it with the world. Whether they are selling an online subscription or a new widget, they see the internet as the ideal way to reach a whole new market that is not in their back yard. In many ways they are right. However, unless people can find their product, they are unfortunately not going to sell much,

We Need Leads

The last bucket of customers generally are folks that really want (or need) to grow their business. The assumption is that a new website or a replacement website will be a big boost in that effort. Good News: IT CAN HAPPEN!  Bad News: It does not happen on its own. Businesses can have the most current, flashy and beautiful website but still have no leads. How can this be? Well, unfortunately, while Google cares a bit about your site, they really want to see two important things.

1: Do you have the basics set up to optimize your site for their search engine (Think SEO).

2: Is your content relevant, current and trustworthy.

Sadly, many developers miss out on the first point and most customers miss out on the second. Websites are often not set up to be successful (even if they are beautiful). They are then not updated and kept current and interesting.

Field of Dreams was a great movie. But “build it and they will come” is dead. Your website and online marketing need regular attention both technically and from a content perspective. These are the perfect balance of art and science that capture both customers (and Google’s) attention.

Stay tuned to future posts for tips on making your site a business growth engine or Contact Us and we will be more than happy to discuss how we can help kick things into high gear,

Web Development Misc

My website is done. Right?

As a company that focuses on WordPress websites, customers frequently ask us when their website will be “done”, and for good reason. It is in many cases the manifestation of their dream. It could be the public face of their small business, their personal blog or even the online shop that they are going to retire on. We work on deadlines and do our best to make sure that by the launch date, their new site is as close as possible to the vision that they had in their head. But does that mean that their website development is done? Unfortunately, the answer is usually no.

People have websites for a variety of reasons. You want to look legitimate and current in your field. Maybe you are selling things or even trying to drive leads. Yet in most cases, regardless of the reason for your website, you are only effective at your goals if you are getting visitors or “traffic”. So the BIG question is, how do you get those coveted visitors to drop into your “sales funnel”? CONTENT! While your initial design is done, and it is fresh for a moment, it is critical to regularly update your site with fresh content related to your particular niche. We work with WordPress on a daily basis  as our website platform of choice and it provides very simple ways for even the most novice website owners to create new content and share it with the world on directly on your site and on social media with tools like the Sumo platform .In addition, there are free tools such as the Yoast plugin that let you see how your content is faring in the SEO world. You can adjust the way Google sees your site, research key words and even see when you have a problem.

The truth is that your site is never REALLY done. Whether you are generating content, making changes to your design or just doing everyday plugin and theme updates for security and performance. There is always something that can (or should) be done. The good news is that most of these things YOU can do yourself and if your site is on WordPress, there are many great members of the WordPress community creating great tools to put that power in your hand. However, we know how it is, sometimes life (or actually running your business) gets in the way and you need a hand. This is where we suggest you find a solid partner who can help you out with some of the ongoing tasks required to both maintain and improve your website and the way people view your business online.

Unfortunately, many website owners have no idea who to call when they have a problem. Whether they need to change some content, their site has been hacked or they just feel like it is not doing what they intended. They email the guy they hired online for help and it bounces, or the kid next door that used to help out went to college and they are stuck in a bind. We hear this story on a daily basis. Good News! We do not want you to feel alone. We can not solve all your problems, but when it comes to WordPress Development, Hosting (with our amazing partner WPEngine) and Maintenance we have you covered. We even have partners that help with things like SEO optimization, content writing and social media advertising. We might not be able to solve all your problems, but we will be glad to pass you on to someone who can. Just drop us a line, we would love to chat and see if we can help keep your online investment in tip-top shape, even though we both know that the process will never be truly “finished.”

The Value of Google Analytics

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How can Google analytics help you? Chances are in many ways, with all the updates and alterations made the new Google analytics essentially does everything except cook you breakfast.

Adding Google analytics to your site is not only beneficial but very simple to do.Google analytics can be your business marketing pro with loads of features to improve your website traffic and SEO all together. Here’s just a few key features we find the most useful and how simple it is to get started.

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The first one is their remarketing feature. This shows you people who have recently searched or bought products similar to what you sell and then shows them ads for your company while they surf the web. This helps extensively for web marketing because it creates a specific target audience for you to advertise to instead of casting a line blindly (your money).

The second key feature being real-time reporting. This shows you who is on your site and where specifically they came from. This is very helpful because it allows you to see what recent ads or promotions brought in the most traffic.

Most importantly though all it takes to get started is signing up then you input the code received in your header and just like that you’re up and rolling!

Talk to Incyte now to learn more about adding Google analytics to your website!
(208) 405-0289 or email info@incytemedia.com

The Importance of SEO/SEM

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What is SEO?

If you have a website or have talked about creating one, SEO and SEM are two things you’ve heard about before. What exactly are they? Let’s start with SEO, (Search Engine Optimization), which by direct definition is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid search results. To put that simply, SEO determines whether your website shows up when people are searching via Google, Bing, or other search engines. When dealing with SEO and trying to optimize your results word choice and titles matter. Search engines will narrow someones results down to the sites that use only the words they selected. So, if your website is about landscaping, but you don’t have the word “landscaping” at all on your website, the search engine is not going to find you. The more you use target words the higher you will be ranked to be found in the search engine. Using effective titles is also very important because often this summarizes the website entirely.

Why are titles critical?

seo 2Be sure to choose a title that is relevant to what your website is about. If your website is about landscaping services you probably don’t want to have a title that talks about your trucks, instead you want to have something people are looking for like “3 tricks to kill dandelions for good”.Links and reputation also play a big part in SEO to determine where your website gets ranked by the search engine. If your website has a large amount of links relating to your website the search engines can see this also which can result in a higher rank, but only if they are legit. If you just buy a bunch of links to point to your page that aren’t relating at all this will be noticed, but if you have trustworthy sites this works in your favor, kind of like kudo points for your ranking. The key to SEO is making the search engines happy. The only way to do this is by use of effective links, titles, and words. With quality information on your site it’s only a matter of time before your site is the #1 recommended by the search engine’s.

 What is SEM?

So that’s SEO, but what is SEM? SEM is Search Engine Marketing, Which is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites, generally through PPC which is short for “pay per click”. PPC are the paid ads that you see show up at the top of search results or in the sidebar. The main difference between SEO and SEM is cost, one is free and the other is money driven. Also while SEO is very broad and SEM is used to target specific users with paid links. When using SEM you are paying to bring more users to your site and potentially can increase your search engine rank. Together these two search tools help provide you with the best visibility possible for your website. Another difference is that SEO is used to capture a broad audience of people via generic search, while SEM is used to target specific users with paid links. The idea behind SEM is to figure out other searches people do that identifies them as possible customers for your business.The basic idea behind SEM is to target likely customers who may not be searching directly for your products or services.

So why are they important?

Obviously the more people who see your website is more potential revenue. To be successful you will need both of these search tools not just one as they work together. So by maximizing SEO/SEM you can achieve the highest traffic from users possible with the end result of more business for you!

Here’s the Shortest Tutorial Ever on SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  1. Find keywords. Pick a list of words relevant to your business for SEO. Think about which words are most likely to get people to do what you want them to do (convert into leads) and focus on those words. Then pick one word (or phrase) to use on one page of your site.
  2. Put keywords in Page Title. The Page Title is one of the most important things that Google and other search engines evaluate to determine what is on a web page. Put your keyword or phrase in the title, keep it short.
  3. Put keywords in Page URL. Google and other search engines also use the text of the URL of the page to determine the content of the web page. You should use your keyword or phrase in the URL of the web page – either the folder/directory structure or the HTML file / page name itself for the best SEO practices.
  4. Put keywords in Meta Data. While the page metadata (Page Description and Keywords) are not nearly as important as they used to be, they still count. Take advantage of them by putting your keyword or phrase there. The description should be readable by a person and make sense and the keyword metadata should focus on your keyword or phrase – do not make it long, less is more in SEO.
  5. Put keywords in your H1 text. The H1 text is usually the title of an article or some larger bold text at the top of your page. Google and the smaller search engines can see this and they put extra importance on the words in the H1 text. Make sure your keyword or phrase is there.
  6. Use keywords in the page content. Putting the keyword in your page content also signals to search engines that the page is actually about the keyword and should show up in search results. We have heard from “experts” that you should use your keyword anywhere from 4-6 times to 10-12 times. Our advice is to just write naturally. Check our our SEO tool that will help you with this step.
  7. Monitor your rank. Give the search engines some time to do their thing (couple days) and then keep checking your rank to see what happened and track your progress. SEO takes time, but soon you will figure out the best tricks to help your page ranking.

How to Research Keywords

Keyword research is a vitally important aspect of your search engine optimization campaign. If your site is targeting the wrong keywords, the search engines and your customers may never find you. You not only put valuable advertising dollars at risk, you also throw away all the time and energy you put into getting your site to rank for those terms to begin with. If you want to stay competitive, you can’t afford to do that.

The keyword research process can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Dealing with Keyword Misconceptions
  2. Create a keyword list
  3. Learn how to use the keyword research tool
  4. Finalizing your keyword list
  5. Plan your SEO Attack
  6. Rinse, Wash Repeat

1. Dealing with Keyword Misconceptions

One common misconceptions about conducting keyword research for a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is the belief that you already know which terms a customer would use to find your site. Site owners tend to come up with words that read like industry jargon, not viable keywords. Remember, your customer probably doesn’t work in the same industry that you do. If they did, they wouldn’t need you. When describing your site or product, break away from industry speak.

Another misconception is that generic or “big dollar” terms are the most important for rankings, even if the term you’re going after has nothing to do with your site. Imagine a women’s clothing store trying to rank for the term “google”. Sure, thousands of searchers probably type that word into their search bar daily, but they’re not doing it looking for you. They’re looking for Google. Being ranked number one for a term no one would associate with your site is a waste of time and money (and it may get you in trouble!). Your site may see a lot of traffic, but customers won’t stick around.

2. Create a keyword list

The initial idea of keyword research can be daunting. Trying to come up with the perfect combination of words to drive customers to your site, rev up your conversion rate and allow the engines to see you as an expert would easily give anyone a tension headache.

The trick is to start slowly.

The first step in this process is to create a list of potential keywords. Brainstorm all the words you think a customer would type into their search box when trying to find you. This includes thinking of phrases that are broad and targeted, buying and research-oriented, and single and multi-word. What is your site hoping to do or promote? Come up with enough words to cover all the services your site offers. Avoid overly generic terms like ‘shoes’ or ‘clothes’. These words are incredibly difficult to rank for and won’t drive qualified traffic to your site. Focus on words that are relevant, but not overly used.

If you need help brainstorming ideas, ask friends, colleagues or past customers for help. Sometimes they are able to see your site differently than the way you yourself see it. Also, don’t be afraid to do some competitive research. What words are they targeting? How can you expand on their keyword list to make yours better? It’s okay to get a little sneaky here. All’s fair in love and search engine rankings.

3. Learn how to use the keyword research tool

Now that you have your list, your next step is to determine the activity for each of your proposed keywords. You want to narrow your list to only include highly attainable, sought-after phrases that will bring the most qualified traffic to your site.

In the early days of SEO, measuring the “popularity” of your search terms was done by performing a search for that phrase in one of the various engines and seeing how many results it turned up. As you can imagine, this was a tedious and ineffective method of keyword research. Luckily, times have changes and we now have tools to do the hard part for us.

By inputting your proposed keywords into a keyword research tool, you can quickly learn how many users are conducting searches for that term every day, how many of those searches actually converted, and other important analytical information. It may also tune you in to words you had previously forgotten or synonyms you weren’t aware of.

There are lots of great tools out there to help you determine how much activity your keywords are receiving:

  • Wordtracker: Wordtracker lets you look up popular keyword phrases to determine their activity and popularity among competitors. Their top 1000 report lists the most frequently searched for terms, while their Competition Search option provides valuable information to determine the competitiveness of each phrase. This is very useful for figuring out how difficult it will be to rank for a given term. It may also highlight hidden gems that have low competition-rates, but high relevancy.
  • WordStream: WordStream offers a suite of keyword research tools for use in pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization initiatives. They also provide powerful fee based tools to help you organize your keywords and increase your profitability.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool: A free tool that should be part of everyone’s arsenal.
  • Thesaurus.com: Again, another way to locate synonyms you may have forgotten.

Keep in mind that you’re not only checking to see if enough people are searching for a particular word, you’re also trying to determine how competitive that phrase is in terms of rankings.

Understanding the competition tells you how much effort you will need to invest in order to rank well for that term. There are two things to pay attention to when making this decision: how many other sites are competing for the same word and how strong are those sites’ rankings (i.e. how many other sites link to them, how many pages do they have indexed)? Basically, is that word or phrase even worth your time? If it’s not, move on.

While you’re testing your new terms, you may want to do a little housekeeping and test the activity for keywords your site is already targeting. Keep the ones that are converting and drop the losers.

4. Finalizing your list

Now that you have your initial list of words and have tested their activity, it’s time to narrow down the field and decide which terms will make it into your coveted final keyword list.

We recommend creating a spreadsheet or some other visual that will allow you to easily see each word’s conversion rate, search volume and competition rate (as given to you by the tools mentioned above). These three figures will allow you to calculate how viable that term is for your site and will be a great aid as you try and narrow down your focus.

The first step in narrowing down your list is to go through and highlight the terms that most closely target the subject and theme of your web site. These are the terms you want to hold on to. Kill all words that are not relevant to your site or that you don’t have sufficient content to support (unless you’re willing to write some). You can’t optimize for words that you don’t have content for.

Create a mix of both broad and targeted keywords. You’ll need both to rank well. Broad terms are important because they describe what your web site does; however, they won’t increase the level of qualified traffic coming into your site.

For example, say you are a company that specializes in cowboy boots. It may be natural for your site to focus on the broad search terms “boots” and “cowboy boots”. These words are important because they tell the search engines what you do and may increase your visitors, but the traffic you receive will be largely unqualified. Customers will arrive on your site still unsure of what kind of boots you sell. Do you offer traditional cowboy boots, stiletto cowboy boots, toddler cowboy boots, suede cowboy boots or women’s cowboy boots? By only targeting broad terms, customers won’t know what you offer until they land on your site.

Targeted terms are often easier to rank for and help bring qualified traffic. They also make you a subject matter expert to the search engines, since the targeted terms strengthen the theme created with the broader phrases. Sticking with our example, targeted terms for your cowboy boots site may be “men’s cowboy boots”, “blue suede cowboy boots”, “extra-wide women’s cowboy boots”, etc. Broad search terms may bring you the higher levels of traffic, but it’s targeted, buying-oriented terms like these that will maximize conversions.

5. Plan your attack

So you made your list of about 10-20 highly focused keywords, now what do you do with them? You prepare them for launch!

Chances are, if you did your keyword research right, at least some of the words on your list already appear in your site content, but some of them may not. Start thinking about how many pages you’ll need to create to support these new words, and how and where your keyword phrases will be used.

We typically recommend only going after three or four related keywords per page (five if you can balance them properly). Any more than that and you run the risk of diluting your page to the point where you rank for nothing. Make sure to naturally work the keywords into your content and avoid over-repetition that may be interpreted as spamming. Your content should never sound forced.

Your on-page content isn’t the only place where you can insert keywords. Keywords should also be used in several other elements on your site:

  • Title Tag
  • Meta Description Tags
  • Headings
  • Alt text
  • Anchor Text/ Navigational Links

You’ve spent a lot of time molding your keywords; make sure you use them in all the appropriate fields to get the maximum benefit.

6. Rinse, Wash, Repeat.

Congratulations. Your initial keyword research process is behind you. You’ve created your list, checked it twice, made friends with the keyword research tools and are now off to go plan your attack. You’re done, right?

Unfortunately, no. As your customer’s and your site’s needs change over time, so will your keywords. It’s important to keep monitoring your keywords and make tweaks as necessary. Doing so will allow you to stay ahead of your competition and keep moving forward.