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Getting noticed – the cult of personality

It’s important to be seen, to be noticed. If you’re selling something, the more people who see it, the more chance you have of selling it. The proudest strutting peacock has the best chance of advancing their bloodline.

However as a method of advertising becomes more popular the more crowded the marketplace gets and the more difficult it is to differentiate yourself. Styles used to stand out from the crowd are quickly copied and become ubiquitous often drowning their originators in the process, too many adopt and nobody wins.

YouTube is a prime example, video styles are copied, presenting styles are copied, content is copied until it becomes unintelligible background noise.

In the early days of web marketing when the buzz words of black and white hat marketing were being coined the concept of rewarding websites with quality relevant content was evolving with the major search operators. Although it took some time to catch the tricks that black hat marketing used eventually it became obvious that good quality content and well maintained websites would prevail in search results.

Now everyone is producing content to this end but not all of it is good, a lot of it is either ‘black hat’ in its intention, cynically produced for cynical reasons or just plain vanilla for sake of pure content churn. Companies are attempting to purvey an accepted corporate front while trying to display a point of difference. This won’t work, the corporate front dilutes any point of difference. Larger companies have been paying ad companies to paint them a personality for years. It’s here where SME businesses have the advantage, they are small enough for key personnel to have a personality and rather than trying to appear corporate they should take advantage of those personalities. Content should reflect them. That difficult blog piece becomes easier to write because the author is writing what they know and in their own voice, the content will ultimately be more impactful for the business.

The moral of the story is, write your own content if you can, don’t put on a voice or mask when you do it, let your business have a personality.

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More Traffic, Sharp Focus Or Broad Brush?

How do you set up your website for the greatest impact, the most users and ultimately the biggest improvements to your bottom line? It’s a question that has no ‘silver bullet’ answer, there have been thousands of systems, plans, and cheats that have come and gone to achieve this and if you’ve tried really hard to ‘beat the system’ you will have tried some convoluted plans (or paid someone to try for you). But search has grown up, it’s all about one person, the user, give them what they want and they might just do business with you.

In the past websites tried to gather as much traffic as possible for as wide a range of subject matter as possible, throwing a wide net hoping to catch everything and just keep what they want, a wasteful method and soon found out by improved search engine algorithms. In more recent years website owners went down the route of creating tightly focused single subject websites to try and get search engines to rank them highly because of their specialism on a subject, again these websites are now often seen as ‘spammy’ and demoted.

So where is that ‘silver bullet’? Well there still isn’t one, but if you build up useful focused areas of content within your website and a well laid out ‘broad brush’ of content areas within your home page you have the best organic search platform from which to plan your other efforts. Be more focused with pay per click, social and email channels, create useful landing pages to encourage user engagement and you will build strong steady traffic that isn’t here today and gone tomorrow.

So you should use focused content and wider topic area base content alongside each other to advertise your business, but most importantly have a plan and measure the usefulness of each of your channels regularly and modify your plan using those results. Understand that you should have different expectations from different areas of your website and marketing as a whole and work on it little and often, in the long run you will win out.

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Conscientious Content

I’ve recently been reading a number of well-regarded sources on the subjects in and around SEO and  web marketing, some really in-depth content, and saw that some of the ideas seemed to be harking back to the bad old days. Many suggestions, when considered carefully, had that feel of “it’ll work for now but might get outlawed next month”.

I was encouraged when I saw a common-sense article about website accessibility, something which there was a real buzz about in the UK around seven or eight years ago, and was relieved. In fact web accessibility standards for users with disabilities and the coding standards that drive them are a very useful road map for creating content which is attractive within search results. By carefully annotating code and writing relevant descriptions of non-text elements we allow screen readers for the visually impaired to better convey the content of a website to a user. In doing this we also code a website which best describes its purpose to a search engine, the fact that the website is easy to read and use for all types of user means that it is achieving what a search engine requires, it become a good result to display for a relevant search.

It’s in the interest of search providers to show relevant search results, without them users will eventually turn to another method of search to find more useful content.

So, if your website has relevant content and it’s well marked up it will be found for relevant searches, it may take time but it will happen.

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Any One Can Do It, Right?

Anyone can build a website, it’s true, there are a myriad of ‘off the peg’ systems out there and fair few of the major worldwide hosting companies are touting website builders for one and all, you’ve probably seen the television adverts. However it’s individuality that sells in this market place, with an ever increasing number of websites being released each day and the number of available domain names being exponentially expanded it becomes more and more difficult. A website needs to clearly get its message across with a personality that will make potential customers linger that elusive second longer, long enough to engage, this will be all the more difficult if all of the websites are effectively the same. This is the best time for anyone in a competitive market to ‘steal a march’ on their competitors with a bespoke website and supporting services because if you’ve all bought the same website from the same website builder how can yours work harder and be better than your competitors?

 

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Responsive Web Design

With new platforms reaching the market every day it’s really important that your website works on a many of them as possible. The best way of doing this is by designing websites using responsive design, this means that as the screen resolution of a device reduces then so different versions of the website styling are engaged. So when your website is viewed on a portrait smartphone it automatically converts from a multi column layout to a single column layout to make the best possible use of the available space and navigation style.

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Design

First Impressions count, it’s a very old saying but still entirely relevant. Research suggests visitors will make up their minds whether to stay and browse a website within the first three seconds of it loading, we are fully aware of this fact and is the reason why we place a great emphasis on creating eye-catching designs that engage with the website visitor.