Insider Tips from Web Designer Charlotte Hyland

Have you ever looked at a website and wondered how they came up with such a clever design?  With close to 900 Million websites globally there certainly are some exceptional sites and some not-so-satisfactory sites.  How do designers do it?  How do they develop a site that not only has superior images, but a pleasing color pallet and easy-to-navigate platform?  Well, at Sperling Interactive, that is our specialty!  Designing and building up websites so that they are easy-to-navigate and visually appealing is the mission of our talented web designers.  Let’s take a few minutes to get to know one of our talented designers and find out some of her insider tips and advice.

CharlotteMeet Charlotte Hyland. 

Charlotte is a self described Type A personality who thrives off figuring out the best way to organize content and what the database structure and layout of a website will be. Her platform of choice is WordPress since it is endlessly customizable but she also loves using HTML, CSS, PHP, and Javascript/jQuery. Charlotte has a knack for listening to what the client envisions for their site and turns it into reality!  Or, if she is given free reign on what to design, she can take into account the needs of the client, the product or services and creates a unique website that captures the brand to a “T”.  Her creativity and ability to get into the head of not only the client but potential viewers makes her a true master at what she does.  Here are just a sampling of her tips of the trade in her own words from her insider’s perspective.

  • Use Custom PhotographyHire a photographer when designing your site. Stock photos can make a clean and beautiful design go downhill and generic really fast. Beautiful photos of your company are really striking, and help your site stand out in the sea of stock photo riddled website.
  • Be Mobile AwareNo more restaurant menu PDF’s on your site! Now that mobile phone use has really taken off, you don’t want someone who is on their way to your restaurant or store and they can’t get the information that they need because they have a bad connection and there’s a PDF that’s taking forever to download.
  • A Word on Scrolling – Scrolling is okay. Calm down, you’re going to be fine. We have a lot of clients who are concerned that people will never scroll down their homepage and see important information. Scrolling is second nature to most users by now. My favorite analogy is that your website is an iceberg. There is some content above the surface, but most of the important information is below the surface. 
  • Trust the Designer’s Knowledge and ExperienceWith degrees in design and a working knowledge of the functionality of a website, designers know how to structure content and images to create a visual hierarchy and convey to your users what is most important on your website. If you trust an electrician to wire your house correctly, trust your designers ability to convey your message effectively. Most designers are keeping in mind the user when they put all the pieces into place.  Clients should also make it a priority to design for the user not for themselves. 

Check back on our blog for more tips of the trade from Charlotte and her Guest Blog in the coming months.

The Power of Blogging

Is blogging really a necessary part of a business marketing plan? Successful marketing leaders know that a content publication strategy can increase visibility, sales and leads.  Blogging is one major component of that strategy.  There are well over 150 million blogs on the internet currently, growing larger every day.  These are big numbers to absorb, even bigger considering blogs didn’t even exist 20 years ago.  In the marketing world, blogging has hit it big yet people still seem puzzled by the impact of blogging on business. Let’s take a few minutes to look at the power of blogging for your business.

  1. Increase in Search Engine Traffic/Rankings – Search engines love fresh content. What better way to provide frequent content than with blog posts. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index and you create opportunities to plug in those all-important keywords to increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPS).(Source Open Vine) This increase in traffic can mean an uptick in conversions from leads to customers.
  2. Become an Authority in your Field – By sharing industry related information and “how-tos” you will develop a name for yourself and your brand as an expert in your field.  As you build up an audience for your blogs, you may find that customers refer to your information as a resource.
  3. Show your Personal Side – Blogging creates a unique opportunity to not only show off your expertise but also how a human and personal side to your business.  Readers will get to know you and your company through your voice in each blog.  That is why it is very important to keep blogs real and down to earth.
  4. Fast Feedback – When something new and exciting happens in your field, a blog can be a great place to have conversations about that event.  Ask questions and converse with your viewers about the news as well as gain valuable feedback about the changes.
  5. Leads and Conversions– An active blog sends a signal that your business is alive and well to the search engines as well as generating leads.  Research shows that the more pages a site has, the more leads it gets. According to Hubspot, businesses with 401-1000 pages of content get 6x more leads than those with 51-100. In simple terms, the more you blog, the more leads you generate. More content means more form submissions, more email opt-ins, more quote requests, and ultimately, more sales. (Source Forbes)

 

5 Components of a Strong SEO Strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy, technique or series of tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. (Webopedia) The higher a website naturally ranks in organic results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. How then can business owners (large or small, new or well-established) create a strong SEO Strategy for their company?  Lets look at the key components that can help your company get ranked higher thus increasing your exposure.

  1. Keywords – Keyword research is the first step to a successful SEO strategy.  Keywords about your service, product or brand can help drive traffic to your website.  Many keywords are very competitive now and thus companies are turning toward long-tail keywords to get a higher ranking.  The new Hummingbird on Google now looks for specific intent of the search as opposed to separate keyword searches.  For help finding and writing these long-tailed keywords read more at Long-Tailed Keywords, as suggested by Forbes Magazine.
  2. Quality Content – We have all heard it over and over “Content is King.”  Well it is true!  Search engines have stated that creating quality content is the best way to not only rank for keywords, but also create positive user experiences. In addition to having relevant content each page should have the goal of having dynamic content that changes periodically to attract even more attention from the search engines. The goal here is not to make the search engines happy as much as it is to create content that readers find useful and that they want to share with their friends.
  3. Link Building – Believe it or not link building is still a great way to get noticed by the larger search engines.  Get listed on free directories or try back-linking to site that mention you or have used your business.
  4. Social Media – Maintaining and growing a social media presence on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube can help your rankings as well.  By capturing your audience on social media you have a good chance of engaging the consumer to check out your webpage or take advantage of offers you announce on social media channels.
  5. Be mobile ready – We have all seen it.  People cant walk down the street without checking their phones.  The statistics show that 80 percent of adults now have a smartphone; the average time spent on a mobile device was 1.85 hours a day (over a half hour increase from 2012). Be sure your website is ready with responsive design that allows viewers to see your site easily regardless of the type of device , whether it is a tablet, phone or desktop.

 

Advantages to Advertising on LinkedIn

images-3Before we discuss why LinkedIn may be a valuable place for your business to place and ad let’s do some number crunching.

  • 380 Million – the number of LinkedIn users as of the second half of 2015.
  • 2 – the number of new LinkedIn users every second!
  • 200 countries – the geographical reach of LinkedIn
  • 97 million – the number of monthly unique visitors.

Obviously LinkedIn is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to acquiring new customers for your business.  There are several benefits for using your marketing dollars on advertising your service/product or company on LinkedIn.

  1. A Professional Audience – Connect with the world’s largest audience of active, influential professionals. The kind of audience LinkedIn offers advertisers is incomparable to other social platforms. LinkedIn is become the advertising platform of choice for B2B and high-consideration B2C advertisers in the a variety of segments including, tech, luxury auto, professional services, financial services and many more.
  2. Set your own budget – The Pay-Per-Click or Impression program at LinkedIn is relatively new. That means fewer advertisers competing for users’ eyeballs, so your ads have a better chance of being seen. There are no long term contracts and stopping ads are easy and self explanatory. Setting your own budget allows companies to spend according to the size of your budget.
  3. Precision Targeting – This program targets specific job titles, job functions, industries, geography, company size, or even seniority to name a few options. This very targeted ability can lead to more useful placement of ads or exposure.
  4. Ad Format Choices – LinkedIn offers varying ad formats including text and image ads, video ads, and text only ads.  These make it easy to cater to your current marketing needs.
  5. Easy Testing and Tracking – LinkedIn makes it easy to test and retest your ads and find out if your company is getting a good return on investment.  Tracking software can make it clear whether your ads are reaching the right audience and if that audience is converting to sales.

Benefits of Facebook Advertising

facebookSince its birth in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has exploded in popularity boasting 1.49 billion active users monthly.  As of the second half of 2015. the platform is the most popular social network worldwide.  Statistically speaking it is also the second most visited site on the entire internet with Google ranking number one.  Therefore, all those visits and viewers mean a massive amount of exposure for your ads and possibly the best way to spend your marketing dollars.  Let’s look at the benefits of using Facebook Ads and how they could help your business reach your target audience in a meaningful way in the place they visit most.

  1. Budget Friendly – Even with a small budget, Facebook can help you reach thousands of people with a specific search criteria.  The minimum amount per day is right around $1 a day US dollars.
  2. Four Bidding Types to fit your needs/budget- Cost per click (CPC), Cost per mille (CPM), Optimized cost per mille (oCPM), and Cost per action (CPA). These choices give your company the freedom to choose the most appropriate option for your goals and budget.
  3. Targeted advertising like no other!  Facebook allows advertisers to target a specific group of people based on age, gender, buying history, personal interests and more. Facebook can even comb through user profiles to place your ads only on pages that mention a specific keyword.
  4. Easy Tracking – Finding out how your ad is doing is important and Facebook makes it easy to track the success or failure of those ads with Facebook Ad Manager. It tracks a huge range of performance metrics to help you gauge performance and measure ROI. It can track the total numbers of times your ad was shown, the number of clicks, and cost data.
  5. Reach your Mobile Audience too!  According to Hootsuite  Facebook had 1.19 billion mobile monthly active users, with 745 million daily active users on mobile as of December of 2014.  That’s a lot of people on mobile, and with Facebook ads, you’re able to reach your audience right at the palm of their hands.
  6. Customer Loyalty and Engagement– Customers who use Facebook tend to interact with it and are loyal to certain pages.  Facebook allows your company to have a fan page where customers can interact with and get to know your company and brand.  This is also a great place where your audience can find out about special offers and deals.