Posts by gwdlv

Business Card Design Essentials

Let’’s face it business cards have to be one of the oldest, most profitable forms of advertising a business can do. Like any other advertising medium there is a right way and a wrong way to design your business card. Remember if this is the first impression people have about your business and you hand them a poorly designed card on white flimsy paper that you threw together on your computer, you better be a great sales person for them to overlook this.


Yes there are a lot of different software packages on the market that claim you can design your own business cards, select a template, add your contact info, then print. This might work for the Mom that is selling gift baskets in her spare time, but is this what you want to say about your business? Without a custom design for your card, how can you truly get your point across? Let’’s take a look at what goes into a highly effective high impact business card Check Out Your URL.

As you may know your business card should reflect your branding. This includes your logo and the design elements used to make your logo, like color and layout. Let’s take a look at a business card that incorporates all these elements.

 

This scaled down version may look fuzzy on some monitors

Here we have a card that is very striking, bold colors, attention grabbing features of the product, and a good balance of space.

The concept behind this design is to ensure customers know that this pest control product is safe for use around their kids. It uses the oil of orange peels to kill bugs. Looking at the design, can you see how this card says this? There is a cute little red haired girl staring at an orange, a picture of the product itself, and next to the logo text, the main point of the product is almost as large, “Finally a Non-Toxic Pest Control Solution”. With the use of contrasting colors the viewer’s eye is drawn to the girl and that statement.

Another important element of this business card design is the call to action. If you have a retail store you would want something like, “”Visit our store today””. Since this is an online store you can see in red bold letters, ““Order Online Today, …It’’s fast and easy””, and below that the web address where they can go to order.

These design elements might seem simple or obvious to you, but there are a number of business owners that just don’t see the impact that their business card design can have on its success. So let’’s recap:

  • Business card should reflect your branding and image
  • Bold design creates excitement about your product or service
  • Design layout and features tell the story of what you offer
  • Call to action your card says, “Now do something!”” Well, maybe not in those exact words

If you have been looking for an affordable solution for business card design and printing then visit our Business Card Design page for more information and pricing. Remember, your business depends on it.

5 Business Website Secrets Revealed

Even in this day and age where there is a computer is just about every home in America, there are still business owners that do not understand the importance of a business website. Today you will learn the power your business website can have to aid in the growth of your business. I don’t think these business owners are purposely not creating website, they just don’t know all the ways their business website can help them. Read on to discover the secrets to leveraging the power of a business website.


Secret #1 – Always Open

What is one of the hardest things about running your own business? One thing that comes to my mind is being open to service your current clients as well as being there for new clients. As a business owner there are so many hours in the day you can work. Twelve-hour days get really old after a while. This is the first benefit of your business website…it never closes.

Before the Internet, business owners had to rely on old tape operated answering machines to hopefully capture someone’s interest when they called after hours. Now your business website can be your after hours voice. You might own a landscape company, and a person sees a show on TV that inspires them. They go online to see locally who can make their dream come true, and find your website. They see from your portfolio that you have created similar landscapes to what they envisioned. They read your mission statement and see that you have been in business for over 12 years, which adds credibility to your name, and then they visit your contact page, and ask that a representative call them for a consultation.

Secret #2 – Lessen Administrative Duties

One of the worst parts about owning a business is paperwork. Let’s face it, paperwork is not what sparked your interest in opening your own business in the first place, but it is part of business. Would it be great to have a tool that can automate some of the mundane daily tasks that consume precious hours during the day? A business website can automate a lot of the daily tasks to free up more time for you to do productive tasks that will grow your business.

A good example of this is in the case of Real Estate Agents. Before a new client would call and say, “I am looking to move to your city, and I am looking for a house. Can you send me some information?” Then the agent would have to find certain properties that fit the needs of that person. At the time, this was a completely manual process. Now leveraging the power of an interactive website, an agent can simply input the criteria set by the client and every time a new property comes on the market that fits that persons needs an email is sent to that person for them to see the property. The agent no longer has to constantly review the needs of their clients, their website does this for them.

Even simply duties can be eliminated with your business website. How many times during the day do you think the person answering the phone for your business has to answer the question, “What are your hours?” This can be seen on your contact page. Imagine if this happened 6 times a day and 5 people called each day that is 30 minutes wasted. That does not seem like a lot of time, but multiply that by 7 days a week, then by 4 weeks in a month lisinopril price. That is 14 hours a month. If you pay your receptionist $10/hr. that is $140 wasted a month times 12 months…that is $1,680 a year. Just eliminating that part of your day to day operations can pay for your website in one year.

Secret #3 “Your Business’” First Impression

Again let’s look at the example of the landscape company. It is after hours and a new client visits your site. It is professionally designed, the color scheme matches the design concepts of your logo, and it is very easy to use. This tells that new client, “Hey this company has their act together.” Without even meeting you new clients can get a feel for your business, all while you are enjoying dinner with your family. How much do you think that is worth?

Everyone has heard you only have one chance to make a first impression. This holds true for your business website. What do you want people to think about your business. Do you want to save money upfront by creating your own site using free hosting with ads all over the page, while using a “Site Builder” that creates a cookie-cutter website that thousands of other people can make? As you have experienced image is everything in business. Why else would there be “Image Consultants” if it weren’t so important. Look at it this way, if your business website costs you $2,500 to have a professional design company create, and the site has a custom template, is easy to navigate, and has loads of information about your company, don’t you think that is a worth while start-up cost. Take the example in the last section, if your website only eliminated the your receptionist answering the question of when are you open that is a savings of $1,680 a year. Now a well-designed site could actually pay for itself in one new client. If the landscape company got a new client from their website and that client wanted their grass removed and xeriscaping done, that might be a $16,000 contract, isn’t it worth spending $2,500 to make $16,000. That sounds like a sound investment to me.

Secret #4 – Farther Reach for New Business

Growing up, my Dad owned his own beauty salon and sold his own line of cosmetics and skincare. Over time his business grew, and frequently he would give beauty seminars to large organizations. He was paid for doing the presentation, but the real money came from the line of people after the seminar waiting to buy his cosmetics and skincare. Since his business was based in Las Vegas, this also started his mail order business. These folks fell in love with his products, and did not want to fly to Vegas every time they needed to renew their supply. The residual income from doing these shows was nice, but it did create more administrative work. It was also limited by those that took his seminars. The time it took to answer calls, right down the order, and write down the billing information started to get old, and tiring fast. By creating an online store for him, not only are the administrative duties lessened, he has a much farther reach for new customers.

Now that he has a fully functional eCommerce website he is not limited to the people that come to Las Vegas for his seminars. People all over the world are able to buy his products. Since all the orders are placed securely online, he no longer has to take the time to answer calls for orders when they are simply delivered to his email box. The payment has already been made, so there is no billing tasks to perform, just package the order, and send it… easy money!

Secret #5 – Lowers Your Advertising Costs

Let’s face it, without advertising your business, you have a slim chance of staying open very long. Your advertising budget can include print media, yellow page ads, and direct mail. Imagine now if you had a business website to support all those advertising mediums.

Let’s look at your yellow pages listing. Every line of information, or every color you ad to attract more attention costs you money. Wouldn’t it be great if you had some sort of advertising tool that could provide a wealth of information about your company, increase interactivity with existing and new clients, and the only month fees you incur are web hosting fees and maintenance fees? If your current yellow page ad costs you $500 per month with a black line around your listing, your logo added, and your slogan in red. Now you have a professionally designed website will everything a person needs to know about your business, so you do not need such a fancy yellow page ad. Next time around you only have your logo with a red border, and it costs you $275 per month. That is a savings of $225 a month. Most hosting packages now cost about $10/mo., and say your design company charges you $50/hr, and you have about a hours worth of updates a month, so that is a cost of $60. Subtract that from your $225 savings on your ad, and you have an extra $165 per month for advertising. These are just the hard cost benefits of having a business website. A yellow page ad can’t show examples of your work. It can’t have interactive forms to fill out. It also can’t provide information you wrote that would strengthen your visitors’ opinion about you as an authority in your field. How much do you think that is worth? O.K. so you are now saving $165/mo. on your yellow page ad, how else can it help lower your advertising spending?

If you do regular direct mailings to get the word out about your company, this cost can also be lessened by having a website. Let’s say you send out 1,000 half-page postcards a month with new coupons on them. By incorporating a newsletter feature into your website, your costs are almost eliminated. Your only real cost is the time it takes you to create the newsletter every month. The coupons can be available for direct download on your site, so you eliminate the costs of printing and mailing them. Using your newsletter allows you to also feature new products or service announcements, which would have cost you more to do through direct mail.

Now let’s talk money. If it takes you one hour a month to create the newsletter and you pay yourself $50/hour, your newsletter cost’s you $50/mo. The way you use to do it, first you had to have the graphic designers create your post card, probably at a rate of $50/hour with a 2-hour time. That is $100. You have to have half page postcards made to have the room for your coupons. That is a full stamp to send instead of the discounted postcard rate. If you are mailing 1000 postcards at $0.39 each that is $39. Now you have to look at the administrative costs. You have to pick up the postcards from the printers, you have to add the mailing labels and stamps, and then take them to the post office. This may take you 3 hours, at $50/hr what you pay yourself, that is another $150. O.K. so we have artwork, $100, postage $39, and your time $150, that is $289/mo. This does not include the mailing labels and the possibility of you getting more business in that 3 hours you spent doing all this stuff. Combining the savings on your yellow page ad, and the savings of direct mail you are now saving, $454/mo. Let’s multiply that by 12 and we get $5,448 per year. What kind of website do you think you can get for $5,500?

Now that I have shown you all the ways a business website is essential in saving you time and money, take a look at how your business runs without one. See all the ways you can save yourself time and money as well as grabbing more business, and ask yourself, “Why didn’t I do this before?”

Be sure to contact us today about creating a website that will save you precious time and money.

Maintaining Your Business Website

Question: Should I build and maintain my own business website or pay someone else to do it?

Answer:

When you say, “pay someone”, who are you talking about? Are you saying the kid next door that is good with computers, or are you referring to a professional Web Design Company?


I’ll answer these questions with a few of my own. First is building and maintaining your business website the focus of your business, like in the example of affiliate marketing? Second, is your time better spent on more important things, like running your business? Remember every minute you spend performing tasks unrelated to the focus of your business is another minute spent towards the detriment of your business.

If your goal is to be a Web Designer than be a Web Designer. If your company builds a product you would like to sell, isn’t your time used more effectively by improving your product or promoting it?

This example refers to a simple thing called, “Opportunity Cost”. When you are planning your budget for a new business, or maybe looking to restructure your business for more profit then you need to know about Opportunity Cost. Opportunity Cost refers to the actual cost of an action.

Most small business owners think they must do it themselves in order to cut costs on start-up. Well this is not always the case. For example we at Graphic Web Design charge $50 per hour for maintaining our clients’ websites. We bill on quarter hour increments, so if your update takes 30 minutes you get charged $25. Now when you as a business owner look at those numbers you have to think, “How long will it take me to maintain my website every month?” You must also look within yourself and ask, “How much do I really know about web design?” These 2 question will help you see or understand the Opportunity Cost of having us maintain your website.

Maybe we should look at the second question first. Say you love to drive your car, and you know a little bit about how cars work mechanically. You are driving along in the heat of summer and with the AC blasting you are stuck in traffic and your car over-heats. You have it towed home and you look at it after it cools, and try to diagnose what went wrong. Yeah, you can go out and spend a few hundred on a new radiator, and then spend the next 2 weekends replacing it. Or you might take it to your mechanic, and find out that you simply had a bad thermostat, that is a $35 part and it took your mechanic 15 minutes to replace. The same holds true for maintaining your website. If all we do to support our families is Web Design, we have experienced more in this field than the average business owner. What may take you 2 hours to do might only take us 15 minutes. Is it starting to make more sense now?

You start to look at the question, “how long will it take me to update my site every month?” Say you sell a variety of products, and monthly you must add new products to your site, and move old products that did not sell. You have product images to edit, and then you have to add the product to your shopping cart, after opening all the software required to make these changes. This month you might have 20 new products to sell, and 6 to clearance out and rid of them. This could take the average person a few hours to complete. If it takes you 4 hours to do, what is its Opportunity Cost? Is that 4 hours better spent letting your customers know about your new products? Maybe it is spent talking to new distributors on the phone to extend your reach? Now going by our maintenance fees that 4 hours would cost $200 a month. You must remember the mechanic example mentioned earlier. We already have the software open, we do this sort of work every working day, so chances are we can get the job done at a much faster rate. If it only takes us 2 hours to do the work, now it seems like the 4 hours it would have taken you are now worth a lot more. Let’s look at this further. Imagine in that 4 hours you get one new retailer of your product that might net you an extra $3,000 a month. Maybe for “reality” sake this does not happen every month, but it does happen every 3months. Remember what took your 4 hours a month takes us 2 hours to do, for 3 months at $50 per hour equals $300. By having us to the web site updates for you, you spent $300 to make $3,000. Hey, that works for me.

This is the true definition of Opportunity Cost. What is it costing you to maintain your website?

Passive Search Engine Marketing

Did you know Passive Search Engine Marketing exists? I’ll explain.

One of the key elements to search engine marketing is not only the quantity of inbound and outbound links, but the quality of those links. For example if you are marketing your website and have a link pointing to your site from a free clip art site, there is not much relevancy. If you have a link to your site from a site that is directly related to your site, then you will find that the quality is higher because it is a link coming from a related field.


The old way of doing this was very time consuming, find a site, send them an email requesting a link exchange, and maybe you heard from about 1% of the people you emailed. Who has time for that? Let me show you the smart way to get quality links to your site.

Introducing Passive Search Engine Marketing

Passive Search Engine Marketing is allowing others to post your link without you having to ask them. This sounds about as likely as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow right? Well it really is that easy.

The way this is done is through the writing of high quality content. Say you write an article about a subject related to your business, then you submit that article to free article directories. With every article you write you are allowed to have your author by-line at the bottom with a clickable link to your site. Are you seeing how this works?

Now I am a publisher, and I go to these free article directories looking for articles to publish on my site about a particular subject. I find your article and publish it on my site. Some time goes by, the search engines visit my site, find your article and at the bottom find the link to your site. Search engines love to find other sites this way. It follows your link to your site, and like magic you have a highly relevant link going to your site.

Imagine if 25 people published one article. All it cost you was the time to write it, and the time to submit it to the free article directories. That’s it!!!

Now of course with anything that is "passive" this is not going to happen over night. No it will take some time to see the results, but the results will be rewarding.

Business Website Redesign

Let’’s face it just about every business has a website. Most business owners probably had their website built for them in 2000 or maybe earlier. It has been five years and I’ll bet those websites have not changed since they were launched.


Websites are dynamic just like business. Business is ever changing as should your website. Remember your website is the first thing most of your new business is going to come from, it needs to be current, not only in content, but technology as well. So much has changed in the Web Design industry, that if you have not updated your website with a redesign, you may be left behind.

What has changed in Web Design?

Most websites built in the late 90’s were built with static HTML pages. This was an effective method then. You simply built a page for each area of your site, about page, contact page, services page, and home page. That is all you needed then. Now that your competition has a website too, how do you get that edge?

One of the problems with having your website built with static HTML pages is just that, they’re “Static”. Expanding your website is difficult because each page has to be changed to reflect the new area. That means the navigation must be changed on every page, so how do we fix this?

Dynamic website using content management software.

One of the biggest advances in web design has to be affordable content management software or CMS. Dynamic websites have been around for a long time, but you need a Microsoft development budget to have it. The other problem previously associated with dynamic websites was that the search engines could not index the URLs that it produced. Now with the use of mod_rewrite, dynamic websites can have very search engine friendly URLs making it possible to compete in the search engine rankings with everyone else.

The next most crucial advantage of CMS is functionality and expandability. The ease at which you can expand your website as well as alter the look of it, is like the difference between driving a car and riding a horse. Dynamic websites use a single template to create the look and feel of your website. What does this mean to you? Well it is simple. One day you decide that you want to rebrand your business and you need to change your website. Currently your site consists of about 100 pages. Before you would need to redesign every page to change the look. Now using CMS you change it in one place. Let me say that again one place. Change the template and it effects every page of your website. That will save you hours of work and hundreds if not thousands of dollars. CMS also uses CSS. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. This file controls the look of the text, the links, your heading tags, and so on. Again if you want to change the color of your links one day, it only needs to be done in one file. So now you can see just how easy it is to change your site, let’s look at further expanding your website.

Your company has just acquired a new product that needs to be featured on your website. Just to reiterate, with static pages you would need to change the navigation on every page of your site. Now that you are using CMS, you simply log in to the administrative area (which I’ll discuss later) of the site and add the necessary pages for your new product. Expanding your website is almost endless.

The functionality of CMS

When a person visits your website it is important to keep them on there as long as possible. This increases your chances of making a sale. This means your site needs to have certain functions that will keep your visitors intrigued and want to stay longer. Most CMS has add-on components aside from its normal functionality. These components can be Poll systems for getting feedback from your visitors. You may want a Comments function that will allow your visitors to leave comments about different articles on your site. This is important to see what your visitors think about what you have to offer or what they could be looking for. You can have a links directory built in. This can help you create alliances with other similar businesses, and increase your website’s link popularity. You can add a scrolling news box to your site. This would allow your visitors to quickly browse information on your website, and it could also establish you as an authority on your business. These are just some of the extra functions you can have to expand the functionality of your website.

Another function that can be added to your site that has gained a lot of popularity these days is a Blog. Essentially a Blog is a diary of your business. You can post news to it to show your visitors that you are on top of what is happening in your industry.

The infamous Admin area

Every dynamic website has an administrative area. This is an area of your site that you visit on your site that requires a user name and password to enter. Once logged in you can see the “back-end” of your site. This is where you will update and make changes to your site. The main benefit of this is you the business owner can update your own site without having to know any Web Design skills. If you have used word processing software you can update your website. Think about all the money you can save by doing it yourself.

Advances in the Web Design industry have jumped leaps and bounds. Along with making it easier to add content to your site, and expand your site, you can now add much needed functionality to your website to increase your edge on your competition. If you would like to get more information about updating your website, contact us today, and let us help you take your website to the next level.

Mouse-over Buttons without JavaScript

Since the dawn of Web Design fancy buttons that change when you place your mouse over them has wowed visitors for years. The problem that arises from creating this type of action is you needed to use JavaScript to create this. Yes you can find this JavaScript on various JavaScript directory sites; the problem has always been that mouse-over buttons are not search engine friendly. Is it possible to have fancy buttons, and keep them search engine friendly?


Mouse-over Buttons using CSS

The popularity of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) has spawned a whole new area of design that simplifies creating these fancy mouse-over actions of buttons as well as keeps them search engine friendly.

Using CSS you can now create a style for your navigation that will give the effect of mouse-over buttons without creating the multiple images required for this using JavaScript. Before if you have 5 buttons you wanted to use for your site, and you wanted a mouse-over state for each one it meant creating 10 buttons (2 images for each button). Well using CSS all you have to create is one image. This image is going to have the normal state (what people see when they come to the page), and your over state (what people see when they place their mouse over the button).

My Button Image

As you can see there are 2 different states in one image. Well that looks fine, but how do my visitors know what the button points to? In comes CSS.

Now we are going to use CSS to control this image behind text to make it a mouse-over button. The first thing that must be done is to create a class for the normal state of the button:

a.mainlevel:link, a.mainlevel:visited { color: #947175; font-weight: bold; font-size: 11px; text-decoration: none; background: url(../../../images/button.jpg) no-repeat; text-align: left; vertical-align: middle; padding-top: 3px; padding-left: 24px; width: 100%; height: 25px; display: block }

This style for my navigation creates text that is #947175 in color, bold, 11pixels tall, without an underline, a background image, text alignment left, vertical alignment middle, with 3 pixels of padding on top of the text, and 24 pixels of padding on the left of the text, and it has a height of 25 pixels. Now let’s break this down.

The first things in this list are pretty recognizable, color weight and height of the text. Next we are asking for our text link to have a background image (the one displayed above). Now if we were to use this style, as it is now the text of the link would appear over the gradient square on the left side of the image. We need to move the text over to the right by adjusting our style. We are going to add some padding to the text to move it over and position it correctly over our button background image. The next part of the code adds padding to the left of the text by 24 pixels, this is the amount determined by the image we are going to use for the button. We also need to move the text down so that it looks like the text lies on the bottom of the inner gradient. We add 3 pixels of padding to the top to create this effect.

Now we have a button that looks as if it were created using something like Photoshop, but it really is just text over a background image. To a search engine it sees the text of our link and can potentially increase our keyword density for that phrase. When a search engine encounters a button image, it has no way of knowing what that image is. It has no way of knowing that the image you use for a button to go to your contact page is a contact button.

We have the normal state, and we want to enhance our navigation with an over state. If you notice from our image above has a second version attached to the bottom of it. This is going to be used to create that over state. Here is the code for our example:

a.mainlevel:hover { color: #767676; text-decoration: none; background-position: 0px -25px }

This code will make the text a different color #767676, and it is going to shift the background image up 25 pixels. This is how the button changes when you place your mouse over the button.

*Note: This information is provided for example. All images and code are copywritten, and can not be used by others. If you would like help with this, let us know, and we can provide you with a quote.

What Does Your Website Say About Your Business?

Have you heard the term; “You only have one chance to make a first impression”? It seems to hold true for your website too.


Websites pop up like weeds on the Net, so your first impression has to be a good one. You have exactly 20 seconds to grab your visitor’s attention. If you miss, your competitor is only a click away. What does this say about your business website? Have you looked at your competitors? Are their websites more advanced than yours?

These are all questions you should take very seriously if you want to stand a chance at grabbing your piece of the pie.

What makes a “good website”? Is it easy to navigate? Does it provide helpful information about a product to educate visitors? Does the site have a professional design, or does it look like it was made with an online website builder? Is the message clear about the mission of the website? All of these items are key to a good first impression.

How does the site look?

This is going to be your very first impression. Site design is not something that should be left up to chance. Would you consider hiring a high school student that took a drafting class to redesign your house? Of course you wouldn’t. Then why would you consider using an online service to create your website. Online website creators serve their purpose, but their purpose is not to design professional looking websites. Hiring a qualified Web Design Company is key to getting a website that directly describes your business’ mission.

Just like a mechanic knows how to fix your car, a Web Design Company knows what features (Web Architecture) need to be incorporated into your site to convert visitors into buyers. Also a Web Design Company is going to know what design elements need to be used in order to appeal to your target market. Color theory has a strong impact on how your target market will react to your design. Keep in mind that your website has a direct reflection on your business’ branding. Do you want people to remember your company because you have an “ugly” site?

Can I find what I am looking for?

Navigation is another area that can make visitors click away from your site. I actually lost money on a redesign because the navigation was so poor; I missed about 30 pages of content (I sure learned a lesson).

Navigation not only needs to be concise, by allowing your visitors to find all of your content, but it must be done in a way that is easy to understand. Navigation can be easily understood by thinking of an outline for an essay. A website is constructed in the same manner. A website is going to have the main categories, the subcategories, and the pages that make up those areas. Next to design this is the most important aspect of your business website. If a visitor cannot find your product, they certainly cannot buy it.

What do people click away from my site after looking at the front page?

Does the front page of your site tell your visitors exactly what you offer? One of the problems faced by a business website owner is to make their statement clear for people as well as for the search engines. There is so much emphasis placed on search engine optimization, business website owners tend to forget who they are really “talking” to. Yes it is possible to please both your visitors and the search engines. Certain text formats can be used to draw attention to your visitors, and also make it clear to the search engines the focus of that page.

Your front page is there to grab attention and get people to click deeper into your site. One way to see if your front page is working is to check the stats offered by your hosting company. Most stats will show you a list of entry and exit pages. If you see that your front page gets a lot of impressions, but your sub pages do not then it is time for a change. Two things can be happening here. One the text on your front page is unreadable or hard to understand, or two your navigation is so poor, a visitor does not know how to go deeper into your site.

Run a test. Make subtle changes to your front page. Wait a few weeks and check your stats again. If you notice that people are going another page or two deeper into your site then clicking away, you know that it is your content and not your navigation. There needs to be a few weeks placed between each set of changes you make in order to provide you with a clear point of reference for future changes. This amount of time will allow you to gain new visitors, and you may also be getting new search engine results. As you progress and notice that now your visitors are reading your content, but not buying, then consider revising your actual product page. Does it have a call to action, or are people left with a feeling of wanting more?

Wrapping it all up

Business websites have a lot of elements that are similar to a brick and mortar store. You must have an inviting storefront (your design). It must be easy to find your products (navigation). People need to know what your business is offering (front page message). Can your customers find the cash register (call to buy action)?

First impressions can only be made once. Be sure that your visitors’ first impression of your business is a positive and memorable one that will keep them coming back for your product or service.

If your business website could use an overhaul, be sure to contact us today

What is an Authority Site?

There has been a lot of talk about “Authority Sites” in regards to search engine marketing. OK, so what does this mean…and why are Authority Sites ranking so high in the search engine results pages (serps)?


As most people know the Internet was started to provide information. Then business people saw that they could sell goods on it, and thus the start of eCommerce. Almost everyone uses the Internet to find information, be it to learn something, or read the local headlines, or maybe to check the upcoming movie times. People search for information, so why do Authority Sites rank so well, because they provide the most relevant information, as well as the largest amount of information. One thing that is missing from the last statement is that they provide the most relevant information about a “theme”.

The term “Theme” in this case relates to a subject or a keyword phrase used by a person when searching the Internet. When search engines spider a site, they try to determine what the overall theme of that site is. If the site is designed properly, the spider will be able to find all the content that is on that site. The more related content it finds the better. Now that the spider has found all the content of the site, it takes a look at the inbound, and outbound links for the site. Inbound links, are links from other sites that point to your site. Outbound links are links that go to other sites, maybe in a statement like, “…to find out more visit…” with a link going to another site that also offers similar content.

Outbound Links

You may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to place a link on my site that goes to another site?” A search engine is looking to provide the most relevant results for a particular search phrase. A search engine will recommend a site that not only provides the search engine user with the most amount of information about a subject, but it will also look at sites that it suggests (or links to) visiting that provides more of the same information. Are you seeing how this works? Along with having a lot of content related to your target keyword phrase or theme, you will also want to provide links to more content on other sites that also relate to your theme. This will appear to a search engine, as your site is an Authority on the subject. There is more to this. Just like you need to find links to other content related to your subject, you hope others will do the same for your site. This is a way that search engine spiders measure the quality of your inbound links.

Inbound Links

Everyone has heard, you must get link exchanges to get higher rankings. Well in this case quality wins over quantity. Let’s just say you have a site about feet. If you had someone that linked to your site from their site, and their site is about video games, think about how a search engine sees this? I am on a video game site, and here is a link that reads, “Cure Foot Problems”, and the link goes to your site. Do you think the search engine is going to pay much attention to that link? Next example, someone has a site that is a directory of foot doctors. There is an article about “Getting Rid of Corns”. The end of the article has a sentence that reads, ”To get more helpful tips about curing foot problems visit the foot site”, and the link to your site is using the anchor text of “curing foot problem”. A search engine spider sees this link and says, WOW I was just on a site that had an article about Getting rid of Corns, and I found a link going to a site that has more information about Curing Foot Problems. Can you see how the second example is going to carry more weight?

Let’s summarize what an “Authority Site” is. It is a site that has a lot of content related to one theme. It has a few high quality outbound links pointing to sites that offer similar content and information. It also has a high amount of quality inbound links from sites that are related to your theme. Sounds easy enough, why isn’t everyone doing this? Well the theory sounds simple; the implementation is not so simple.

Becoming an Authority

Part of being an authority site also includes longevity. Now we all know that “Internet time” is different from regular time. Sites like eBay are about to celebrate their 10th anniversary, and it is considered an “ancient site”. When I refer to time, I mean a few years, around 3 to be more precise. This seems to be about the time when the amount of content on your site has grown to a number over 500, it is also the amount of time that you will find, that there are more people linking to your site without you asking for it. That in itself should convince you that you are now an Authority.

What can you do to speed up the process? Write, write some more, and when you are tired of writing, write some more. If you are really passionate about your field this should be easy. Along with writing content for your own site, offer some of your content with reprint rights. Reprint rights will include an Author’s By-line at the bottom with a clickable link to your site. Let’s look at this for a moment. Who is going to be interested in publishing your content on their site? Well a person that has a video game site is not going to publish an article about soothing painful feet helpful site. The publisher will have a site that is directly related to your site, and there you have another quality inbound link.

Becoming an Authority is not easy. It definitely requires the phrase, “Putting in your time”. Remember it may be a long road to the top, but once you are there it is hard to get knocked down.

Can My Site Benefit from a Re-Design?

Your site might have been a bundle of simple HTML pages. Updating a static HTML site can be difficult and very time consuming. If you have a ten page site and would like to Hockey add a new section to it, then you will need to update your navigation for the new section on all ten pages. You may decide one day that you want your link color to change. Again, it requires you to change it on every single page.


There are so many new advances in Web Design, like blogging for example. Blogging can be a section of your site that you use to show your Recent News on. A blog can be used to display reviews of your products you sell. these are just two examples of how technology has changed since your site was designed 3 years ago.

Content Management

So many people these days want the power to make simple changes to their site without having to hire out to get it done. Using content management software (CMS) makes this a breeze. The name describes its function, software that manages your content. Most CMS systems incorporate an administrative back-end that allows the site owner to make changes to their site just like they were using their favorite word processing software. CMS systems are dynamic, which means all the content for the site is stored in a database. This makes it very easy for your site to grow with your company. If you decide you want to add another section to your site it can be done simply by adding it into the back-end. Your navigation is updated to reflect your changes, and it did not need to be changed on every page of your site. Some people say, “I only need a 6 page site for my business”. Does this mean you are not looking for your business to grow? That seems unthinkable. Your site should grow equally to your business. Another benefit of content management software is its templating system. If you decide you want a new template or you might choose to re-brand your company with a new logo, using CMS all you need to do is edit one template, and it affects the entire site. CMS also uses linked Cascading Style Sheets to control things such as text color and size, font color and size and so much more. Again if you would like to change the color and size of your text, it is done in one file to affect the whole site. Are you able to see how technology has changed to make updating and maintaining a site a lot easier?

eCommerce

Another form of CMS is a shopping cart. It is geared to control your products, but works in the same fashion as a conventional CMS. Adding eCommerce to a site is easier than ever. If you have an exisiting site, a shopping cart can be added, and use your current template for your site to seamlessly integrate with your site. You will need a database for the shopping cart software to run because, it too, is dynamic (storing all the content in a database). You may even want to scrap your old site and develop the entire site inside the shopping cart. This is probably the best solution for you, so that you can reap all the benefits of having a dynamic site.

Are you still wondering if your site can use a re-design? The decision should be easy. Take your site to the next level, contact us today for a quote.

Beware of Some Web Hosting Companies

The buzz right now in hosting is unlimited everything. Unlimited bandwidth, Unlimited web space, Unlimited email accounts and so on. How does this affect you as a web hosting consumer?


This Unlimited craze is another way corporate America has ruined another type of business go right here. Large hosting companies have found out that not everyone is going to use all the space or bandwidth Expostand allotted to them, so that means they can over sell what their server can realistically Replace handle. There may be 100 Gigs of drive space and they might have 150 Gigs worth of accounts sold on that one machine. This seems to be ok to them. The money made on that server sure outweighs the few people they may loose because their site might go down for a while.

A more real world example is one that involves a PHP/MySQL shopping cart, I created for a customer. They went with someone that we later Is found out was one of these Unlimited hosting companies. What we got was the site continually going down because they limit the number of database calls to the server in hopes of lowering the load on the server. After countless times of emailling tech support, and calling them, that was their answer. Not, “is there anything we can do to fix this for you.” No they felt, well take it or leave it…we made our money off of you. Our client lost a few months of hosting they prepaid, and the site was obviously down while we moved it.

Ask a lot of questions, when you are considering a hosting company. Remember for some folks that is your landlord if you are an online business. Would you rent space from a landlord that did nothing to help their tenants?…I wouldn’t.

We use and recommend Las Vegas Web Hosting for rock solid hosting.