Archives for posts with tag: SEO

Social media is no longer just a way to keep in touch with friends and family. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace, WordPress, Flixster and Digg are just the start of a long list of social networking sites. A social networking site is a virtual place where people can connect with others who have similar interests. Such a site allows interactive dialogue and user generated content. In the last few years business has discovered how useful such sites can be. If you have a product or service that users of a specific social network might be interested in, why not join the dialogue? It is especially useful for a small business owner because it is free and raises awareness of your business. Every click on the link to your website will improve your status on the search engine lists. See my blog about SEO for more information about optimizing your website.

If you are creative and energetic you can create a following of people that are interested in what you have to say. Traditionally business owners get involved in the community where they live; they contribute to fundraisers, they support a little league team, they have a float in the Santa Claus parade. All this is part of the effort to raise their public profile and generate business. It is imperative for a business owner to market themselves. It is still important to do all those things and more, but in the modern world, your “community” is much larger. You can sell your product anywhere in the world if you want to! And how do prospective clients discover you and what you are offering? On social media of course!

Don’t forget the “Social” in Social media. You do not want to have a Facebook page, Blog or Twitter account where you only try to sell sell sell. You won’t get followers that way. Instead, focus on providing content that people will find entertaining or educational. There has to be a reason for them to return to your page repeatedly. Perhaps you will have a contest, or give a coupon to the 100th visitor, or some other freebie. Humour is always a great way to encourage more visitors. They stop to laugh and stay to find out more about your business. If you are not a comedian or that approach is not appropriate for your business is, another thing you can do is provide information and advice. If you had a Car Repair Shop you could post tips for maintaining your car the best way or if you have a Bakery business you could post a favourite recipe of the month or something like that. Perhaps you are a psychologist. You could post articles about taking care of yourself or positive affirmations of something. The whole idea is to try to create a “buzz” about you and your business.

It takes time, effort and a bit of creativity to maintain a Facebook page, Blog or Twitter account but the results are worth it. If you can afford it, you may be able to hire a specialist to do it all for you but if you need to keep a tight control of your marketing budget you can do it yourself for free! Good Luck!

I invite you to  check out my Facebook page and my Twitter Account if you like.

Have a good week!

Olwen Hanmer,

 Sandstone Studios

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Even if you are using templates from one of those DIY sites, you need to spend time planning your website. What do you want to say to your visitors? How do you want to present yourself? What information do your customers need to know? These sound like obvious questions but in fact they are hard to answer and need a lot of thought. I often find with new clients that they only have a general idea what they want. “I want something bright and clean and professional looking with lots of action in it”  or “I want something artsy”  That is a start but it doesn’t give me much to work with.

The first thing you might do is spend some time browsing around the internet entering keywords in your search box and seeing what pops up. A keyword is a word that you associate with your business. If you had a landscape business you might try landscape, landscaping, trees, lawns, gardens, shrubs, flowers, etc etc. Your choice of keywords is very important in helping people find you once you are live on the internet. If you have hired a professional they will do keyword research among other things to improve your SEO  (see my Blog about SEO ) Take the time to have a look at each site and note the URL (or web address) if you like the look of a specific website. There may be specific features of a website that you like so make a note of those as well. This will help you focus in on what you want your own website to look like.

The next thing you need to do is to make a “flow chart”. It will look something like this:sample of a simple flowchart

This will help you figure out how many pages you need and what content you will be putting on each page. This is quite simple with a small website but you would be surprised at how the number of pages can grow when you get right down to it. An important thing to remember is that you don’t want  your visitors to have to “dig” too far in order to get the information they need.  It is ok to have additional information and other non-essential facts buried  down a layer or two, but your primary tabs should direct them to what they need/want to know with one click of the mouse.

So – now you know what you want your website to look like , sort of, and you know what pages you are going to create. Now you have to figure out what you are going to put on each of those pages, what you are going to say  and how you are going to say it. Do you need graphics or pictures? Do you want feedback forms? Do you want a slideshow or other flash animation?  If all this is planned out before you begin, your entire process will go much more smoothly. It is always easier to do it right the first time rather than having to go back and correct it later.

Whether you are doing it yourself or getting a professional to do it for you, these are steps you should take the time to think through. After all, it is your business!

April 12 2012

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization but what does that really mean? When a web designer/developer tells you that they offer SEO, they are telling you that they will do whatever they have to do in order to get your website to pop up when a prospective customer searches for your product or service. There are entire companies that specialize in nothing but SEO – it is a huge topic.

If you haven’t made any effort to improve your “findability” on the internet you may never have any visitors to your site. Being easy to find is extremely important but there is massive competition for those first few pages of a Google search so you need to make a bit of an effort.

The first consideration is the name of your website.  If there is some clue as to what you are promoting in the name you are one step ahead of the game.

Next you will need to do some research for “keywords“. What will people type into their search boxes to try to find you? Start with the obvious and search yourself, then get creative and try to think like your customers might think – all possibilities. Write these down. You will be inserting these into the “meta-data” on your WebPages.

Then you need to think of a short but descriptive sentence to describe each page of your website. These sentences will appear on the search list and encourage visitors to your site so make them interesting and to the point. These also go into the “meta-data” section of your webpage. It is also helpful to name each page in a descriptive way because it will appear at the top when a visitor tabs through your site so they will know where they are and what to expect on the page.

In addition to all this you will need to consider things like the keywords when deciding on what text/copy you have. You will also have to keep SEO in mind when choosing Headings for different sections and Labels for images. It all helps and some people have made a science out of it.

Another major way to improve your standings is to have a lot of other people and websites linking to you. It improves traffic if you link out as well. Ultimately, the more times someone goes to your website, the higher it will rise on the pages until it is near the top. The trick is to make this happen pro-actively instead of waiting (and hoping) that it will happen all by its self – because it probably won’t.

You can always be found by someone who has your URL (for example http://www.sandstoneweb.ca) but it is more desirable for them to be able to type in a couple of general words about your product or service and find you that way.

Please understand that this is a very simple outline of the entire process just to give you a bit of understanding of what is involved. The details of how to accomplish top standing day after day, on a search engine like Google, would take months to discuss. What you need to know is that SEO is valuable and very important to your online business success.