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What’s the benefit of having a graphic design company create your website?

What’s the benefit of having a graphic design company create your website?

You might ask yourself: Can’t I just create my own website, and forget the additional expense of quality graphics and quality design? Yes you can do that if you have the skills to do the minimum HML and CSS, but you’ll likely end up paying more in the long run with a loss in business over not having a quality design… if those things are difficult for you. When people visit websites these days, the minimum they expect to see is something that looks professional… even if there is not much in the way of content on the website.

People decide in the first few seconds whether or not they’ll stay long enough to read your information (or consider your products)… based on whether or not the website looks legitimate, professional and secure. Believe it or not; graphics play a crucial role in convincing people that a website is legitimate, and that the product or services the website represents is of quality. They expect to quickly understand all of this, and what the website represents in just a few seconds, or they move onto your competitors website instead. Many people don’t realize that websites that look cheap actually are worse than not having a website at all. You can think of it like a person who never keeps up the outside of their home, but the inside of the home is immaculate. Not many people would want to venture inside without first hand knowledge of what’s on the inside.

Even if you use sites that allow you to build your own website, you’ll still need help creating the graphics and photos that will go into your website. Design will still play an important role in securing new business on line, even if you try to build your website yourself. Many of the services out there for allowing people to build their own websites, end up costing you more in time and money, because of the difficulty in getting things to look exactly the way you want them to. It takes skill and training in web design to produce something of a certain level of quality!

Not only does this rule apply for web design, but it also applies to all the products you create for your business such as your letterhead, logos, fliers, print ads, newsletters, banners, signs, business cards etc. After all, if you don’t spend some time on creating something of quality in regards to all of the items that represent your business, then people automatically think you don’t care enough about your own business, and they subconsciously think that will also transfer to your relationship with your customers.

If you are serious about your on line success, and understand that no amount of SEO, or advertising will help a business grow if your website looks like it was not well thought out, then give us a call so we can help you design a quality solution at affordable prices. We are here to help you with all of your on and off line graphic design needs!

 

Is advertising your small business on line really worth it?

Is advertising your small business on line really worth it?

In my experience this is yet another question where it all depends on who you ask, and the source of the advertising. For new small businesses, there is usually a limited budget for things like SEO and promotional advertising, but there has to be some level of advertising to bring in clients. So with that in mind, our next focus becomes looking into the various options available on line for advertising including: Google Ad-Words, Yahoo Local, Yellowpages.com, Whitepages.com, Superpages, Citysearch, Foursquare, Manta, Yelp and the list goes on.

Then the next question becomes, how do you know which one will be the best for your small business, and which one will give you the biggest bang for the buck. Companies like Manta are trying successfully to promote small businesses, by providing quality advertising and higher rankings on their index, and still keeping things affordable for small business. Other solutions like YP.com are much more well known and popular, but the cost can be prohibitive for many new small companies. However the ROI and your budget are the two things to focus on most, so if you have the money to invest in a higher profile advertising company like YP.com, that is where your focus should be. If your budget is strapped; looking into companies like Manta are a good affordable option, but expect the results to be less than that of the bigger companies. Do some Google searching on companies like yours and see which company listings come up at the top of the index more frequently, and do that for about a week and keep some data in a spreadsheet to help with choosing the right solution. With a little creative investigation, you will know where to start!

Consider Google Ad-Sense for example: This is a way to generate revenue from having affiliate advertisements on your content based website, which could help with funding advertising campaigns for your own website. Systems like this rely on your SEO being up to par for example, as well as there needs to be a good quality and quantity of content on your website; otherwise Google will not send you relevant affiliate advertisements, reducing click through rates. So if the nature of your website is more about showcasing products and on line sales, rather than being content and informational based, then Google Ad-Sense might not be the best solution for your small business, until you have some content they can index well.

Then Google Ad-Words for example is Google’s pay per click advertising campaign, which can work quite well, but relies on a lot of lost investment money up front, because it takes time to perfect the content for relevance, and SEO performance. This takes some practice and a lot of time to invest in trial and error of relevant high performing content. Like anything that relies on SEO, having new content added over time helps with the ability to attract more clicks and more business. You are always in competition with other companies not only on the SEO index, but on how much you pay for your campaigns. The companies with the most money to spend on campaigns, will remain at the top of the heap longer, than a small business, so finding that just right balance can be a chore to say the least, and there are never any guarantees of success with these paid solutions.

The one thing you can always rely on for advertising is printed materials that you put in the hands of potential clients, which can have a reference to your on line business website. If your website is your business, then this will be an even more important area to focus on. If your website is just a source of information about your business, then the printed materials will allow people to get more information about your business, without having to commit to a formal meeting.

This is where the quality of your website becomes the most important thing for your business. Whether your customers get to your website from an on line ad, or from printed materials, or some other form of local advertising, the quality of your website will be what earns your customers trust. If your website looks like it was created by an Amateur, or just does not look professional, then people decide in the first few seconds whether or not to move on. People automatically associate the quality of your business, with the quality of your website. It’s sort of like being a good Dentist, with a messy or uncleanly waiting room. Chances are, many new customers would walk out of an office like that, and your website design produces as similar result. Image is important with any advertising medium, and that goes for your website as well.

So my advice is to do a little research to fine the best possible solution for your advertising, but first make sure the website people are brought too, is a good representation of your business, but a solution that is still affordable for your small business budget. We are here to help you with your business image, by providing you with affordable graphic art and web design solutions!

Is SEO the most important part of your business goals on line?

Is SEO the most important part of your business goals on line?

Well, that all depends on who you ask and how much money you have to spend. There are many who feel that SEO is the most important aspect of attracting new business on line, but it’s just not that simple for small businesses. With a small business budget, you have to weigh the benefits of SEO versus other forms of promotion. For small businesses with a limited budget, I recommend considering other methods of driving traffic to your business initially, and your on line presence will suffice more as a repository of information about your company, as well as a showcase of your products and services, where traffic is directed to your website through word of mouth and local advertisements.

SEO is time consuming and can be very expensive, but it is definitely worth it if you have the budget for it. There is always a tipping point with things like that; meaning that you have to invest up to a certain threshold, in order to gain any real benefit from that method of driving traffic to your website, and that threshold can take a while to figure out. The thing is; unless you have thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to spend on doing SEO right, you will likely not gain much from it, as your competitors at larger companies have huge budgets to spend in this area, and competing with that directly can be a waste of time and money in the beginning. I’m not saying don’t spend any time on it, just do some homework and do the minimal SEO efforts initially to get yourself indexed at least, but don’t spend too much money and time in this area, until you have enough money to find out where that tipping point would be in regards to your competing with those other businesses like yours.

Because SEO can be expensive, you have to consider other methods of attracting new business initially, such as the traditional advertising and social networking methods, including good old fashion “face to face meetings” and “cold calling”. The most important thing… is to find ways to share the message of your new business, and a website is only one way to do that. You should create quality printed materials that you can hand out to potential customers, including professionally designed fliers, banners, business cards, T-Shirts, pens, free calendars etc. Your printed materials including your brochures and business card, should all contain the address to your website, where people can learn more about your business after the initial meeting is over.

The other things about competition on line with search engines, is in the popularity of the search terms used for a particular business. For example, typing in “freelance graphic artist” into Google produces thousands if not millions of results. Because of this, you have to understand what search terms people would most likely use in a search for your business, and check to see how competitive that term really is, and whether or not trying to get higher on the index makes any sense right now, given the competitiveness of those search terms, and the cost associated with attaining that goal.

There are plenty of people out there ready to take your money with SEO services, with no guarantee of placing higher on the index (or high enough to be competitive), but you may find some that do guarantee certain level of rankings, with a money back guarantee, that can work within your budget. Even if you do place higher on indexes, there is still competition at the top of those rankings, and getting higher on those rankings through SEO can be very costly and time consuming, which may make it too difficult for many small businesses; especially in the beginning. Again this is where advertising services like Yahoo Local, Google Ad-words, Yelp, Yellow Pages.com, Manta.com, Masscities.com etc., come into play. Again, you will want to look at the costs and weigh your options, so that you get the best bang for your buck. I’m convinced that the best form of advertising is word of mouth, and direct marketing concepts such as post cards, local ads, fliers, business cards etc, since all of these are more personal to your customers, and much more affordable for a small business.

The next thing to consider however is PPC pay per click advertising. With pay per click there are two options Flat-rate PPC, and Bid-based PPC. With Flat-rate, the advertiser and publisher agree upon a fixed amount that will be paid for each click. In many cases the publisher has a rate card that lists the cost per click (CPC) within different areas of their website or network. With Bid-based PPC, The advertiser signs a contract that allows them to compete against other advertisers in a private auction hosted by a publisher or, more commonly, an advertising network. For more information regarding this topic, see this wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_per_click. The bottom line is, if you have the money to pay to be at the top of the search engine listings through PPC, then this might be a viable choice if you need fast and quick exposure with only minimal SEO needed.

Then once people finally reach your website, you’ll need a website that not only informs people, but gives them a reason to want to look further, and keep coming back. It is very important with an on line presence, that it look professionally designed, and have regularly updated content, since that can help to retain existing customers and attract new ones. People automatically associate the condition and look of your website, with the quality of your business. It is much better to not have a website, then it is to have a poor quality one, or one that does not flow well, or just looks amateurish or unrelated to the business it represents. All content needs to be relevant and organized appropriately, so that users can find what they need on your website, without having to search much for it. It is also important to provide social networking solutions when appropriate, so that people can easily share the information on your site with their friends. If done right, social integration can really boost traffic to your website.

Again there are many points of view on the subject of SEO, but this is my opinion regarding SEO when it comes to small business, and I encourage you to do your own research to find out the best possible solutions for your small business, using this article as something to consider. There are so many variables, but focusing on the little things you can do now locally is a great start! Good luck with your new business, and we are here to help you with all of your graphics and web design needs, so that your advertisements will be successful!