Why Every Company Needs To Make SEO A Priority 

By Steve Hoag

making SEO a priority

A strong online presence is an absolute must in today’s business world. People are using the Internet to find products they want to buy, not the Yellow Pages. There are a variety of marketing tools to get your name out there, but one of the best ones is SEO. Search Engine Optimization focuses on maximizing your rankings in major search engines like Google and Bing. So why do you need to make this a priority?

SEO improves ORGANIC search rankings, so you don’t have to spend as much on paid advertising.

Organic search rankings are the results that appear whenever you type a keyword into Google that aren’t paid ads. Your organic search rankings are absolutely free; you aren’t paying Google or Yahoo to place you that high. They are doing so because of your strong SEO. By building strong advertising you are able to forgo other options like Google Ads, which can run fairly expensive based on your budget. In the long term organic search is much more beneficial for your company, since most consumers use those results.

SEO improves brand awareness and recognition

SEO isn’t just about click throughs. It’s about getting your company name in front of consumers. Even if they don’t click on your website, they will have been exposed to your name and brand. Over time, this can greatly increase awareness and recognition. This is especially true if you build a strong SEO program and consistently appear on the first few pages, where most of the impressions are.

SEO improves brand credibility.

Besides improving awareness, a strong SEO program can improve the credibility of your brand. The higher you appear in rankings, the more consumers will trust you. Who do you think you would trust more: a company that appears on the 1st page of results, or one that is on the 30th page? Probably the former.

SEO can build traffic, leads, and sales.

Once you get down to brass tacks, SEO is all about creating more traffic. A strong search engine ranking means more click throughs, which your sales and marketing team can turn into leads and sales. SEO is critical if you depend on e-commerce, or if your online presence is important to your business. Keep in mind, SEO is not an overnight success. You need to stay persistent, and eventually results will come.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, January 22, 2014 7:00:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SEO SMB web development website

Three Questions Every Designer Should Answer Before Taking A New Client 

By Steve Hoag

questions every designer should answer

New projects are awesome. They mean more sales revenue, connections, and a bigger portfolio. That doesn’t mean you should take every project though! It’s important to focus on the ones that are a great fit for your business, and ignore the ones that may be more trouble than they’re worth. You should always ask the following three questions before undertaking a new project:

Does this project fall into the same scope of work I’ve done before for previous clients?

This is a really important question to think about. Do you already have the skills/experience needed to provide an excellent finished product? Will you have to learn anything new to complete the project objectives? You should make a rubric or checklist so that you can easily ascertain how good of a fit a project will be for your business. The point is, you always want to be able to guarantee high quality work, with little to no delays. If there is an aspect of this project that you can tell could create problems, you should either consult with the client, or move on to another project. You don’t want to have any party frustrated/dissatisfied during the design process.

Can this client pay for your work in a timely fashion?

The only way to maintain a profitable business is by guaranteeing steady cash flow. The best way to do that is to minimize your accounts receivable, and taking clients that you know can pay for your time. If you are having any doubts, go over this with the client before starting work, or move on. Your design business isn’t non-profit after all.

Is this a one-time project, or can this client be retained for ongoing work and future business?

Any client that can be retained for long-term design work is extremely valuable. Besides minimizing cash flow volatility, ongoing work can create a relationship. You can leverage this to get more projects with your client’s connections. Word of mouth is a powerful thing! That being said, don’t forgo a one-time project for an ongoing one if it’s a huge contract, or with a great corporation to add to your portfolio. Always do a cost-benefit analysis so you can make an informed decision!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, January 22, 2014 1:31:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design

Blogging 202: Mistakes to Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

blogging 202

Once you create your initial blog schedule, get your ideas together, and start writing, you have to avoid making easy mistakes. There are a number of things you should NEVER do, especially if you want to use your blog to build traffic and online exposure.

Duplicating online content.

This should be a no-brainer, but you should never copy someone else’s content and try to pass it off as your own. This will not help your search rankings, because search engines look out for this sort of behavior and will remove your post from results. Also, you could get into some legal troubles down the road if you aren’t careful. When it comes to blogging, it’s ok to use other articles as inspiration, but it’s not ok to copy them word for word.

Ignore using social media to share your blog.

Blogs are meant to be shared, and social media is the best way of accomplishing that. If you forget to use social media, you are forgoing a free marketing tool that has unprecedented reach. You are limiting your blog’s exposure to its subscribers, when it could be reaching thousands, if not millions of people.

Forget to use analytics to track clickthroughs.

Using analytics is the only way to know which topics you are posting about are generating traffic for your site. Without proper monitoring you will never know which topics to ignore or focus on. There are a bunch of free options out there like bit.ly which you can use to track clickthroughs on URLs. Trust me, using services like these go a long way.

Forget to make content shareable on your blog.

Another easily made mistake is forgetting to include social sharing buttons/badges on your blog page. You need to make life easy for your users by streamlining processes. Many users might think your article is great, but don’t want to go through the ‘hassle’ of copying a link, logging into a service, and then sharing it. Social sharing buttons take care of this potential problem, and can help to create more buzz/traffic.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, January 17, 2014 5:30:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SEO SMB social media social media marketing website

Why A Custom E-Commerce Store Means More Sales 

By Steve Hoag

custom ecommerce store

The storefront matters. It mattered when the only option was going to a brick and mortar shop, and it still matters today with online storefronts. The shop itself has an effect on the purchasing behavior of a consumer. If you were going to go buy a car, would you go to some back alley garage, or the trusted, local dealership?

Custom branding builds credibility and trust.

People trust people or things that look nicer. That’s why people get stressed out at 3 am when a homeless person is near them, but not when it’s a businessman in a nice suit. A custom e-commerce store allows you to implement things like custom branding. Being able to use your branding instead of a pre-packaged template can have a profound effect on consumers. They will see that you put time and money into the appearance of your store, and that builds credibility. The more credibility you have, the easier it is for the consumer to trust you, and then purchase your product.

A custom storefront means more functionality.

One of the biggest benefits of custom development is creating functionality where it didn’t exist before. Have a custom e-commerce store can be a huge asset if you need additional functionality now, or down the road. Some e-commerce solutions will have missing tools like mobile/social media stores or social check outs. With a custom solution you can circumvent all these issues. You get exactly what you need, with the ability to add whatever you want later on. Having the ability to add great functionality like social media checkouts can make the buying process easier and more efficient for consumers. Streamlining processes with a consumer-centric focus means fewer hoops to jump through for a user, and a lower rate of cart abandonment. And that means more sales.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, January 16, 2014 6:09:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise retail marketing SMB social media web design web development website

The Web Design Industry Explained Via Infographics 

By Steve Hoag

Infographics are arguably the hippest way to consume information on the Internet today. They’re easy to digest, highly shareable, and packed with content. We have scoured the internet for the best web design infographics for you today. Some are serious, some are funny, and all of them are informative!

Web Designers Vs Web Developers (Via HongKiat)

This is a humorous look at the difference between web designers and developers. If you didn’t know how they were different before, you do now!

web design infographics

Designers vs Designers (Via SloDive)

This infographic is another humorous look at the design industry, with statistics for different types of designers including salary, job satisfaction, etc.

 

The Most Common Resolutions (Via Okilla)

A great infographic that presents a concise summary on the most common resolutions used by different devices today! Definitely worth taking a look at if you are building responsive sites.

 

Flat Design: Just a Trend or a New Staple of Web Design? (Via CreativeMarket)

A company named Usabilla conducted testing websites and surveyed web professionals to figure out what people think about flat design. The results are pretty awesome!

 

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:22:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development web trends website
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