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18 OctA Survival Guide for Beating Information Addiction

Are you suffering from information addiction? It’s a growing problem as people spend more and more of their time online — and while online tools are amazing, being addicted to checking them can steal most of your day.

You know you’re an information addict if you:

  • Check email, Facebook, news, or some other social network first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
  • Are constantly on your mobile device when you’re away from home/office.
  • Can’t get away from the computer in order to get outside, exercise, or spend time with people while disconnected.
  • Are constantly posting to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or texting/emailing, when meeting with other people.
  • Can’t get important work done because you have to check your messages.
  • Feel anxiety if you’re completely disconnected for more than a few minutes.
  • Can’t imagine spending an entire day disconnected.

Now, if none of these seem like a problem for you, even if you do them, then they probably aren’t a problem. But if you see yourself in one or more of these and want to change, this guide is for you.

Read more…

28 Aug5 Keyword Research Tips for New Websites

Keyword research is one of the cornerstones of building an SEO campaign. The keywords you target on your site will determine what kind of searches your site gets pulled into the SERPs for, and what kind of visitor will ultimately find your site. New websites doing their keyword research for the first time don’t have the luxury of analytics to help guide their keyword selection process, so they have to start from scratch and use their best judgment.

Here are 5 keyword research tips for new websites to help ensure they get off on the right foot.

1. Don’t Let Search Volume Dictate Your Keyword Selection

A keyword like “software” gets almost 25 million searches a month in the US alone. There is no denying the powerful potential of what ranking #1 for “software” could mean to a company, but new sites owners need to remember two very important things about search volume. First off, the higher the search volume the more competition there will be for that keyword. Your new website is going against big brands that have been online and doing SEO for a lot longer than you. The odds of your website jumping to the top of the SERPs for such a broad keyword anytime soon are slim to nil.

Secondly, just because a keyword has a high search volume that doesn’t mean it should be your priority keyword. What kind of software do you sell? Is it computer software? Accounting software? Are you offering software training classes? Do you create custom business software? Yes, you may sell software, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% on point with your business. Computer software gets a measly 550,000 searches a month, but the searchers are a much better customer for your site because they want exactly what you have to offer. Read more…

23 Aug9 Businesses Using Pinterest Contests to Drive Traffic and Exposure

Are you using Pinterest to market your business?

Running contests on Pinterest is a great way to expose your brand to a large audience, attract new followers andengage with your existing follower base.

In this article, I’ll showcase nine businesses running successful Pinterest contests.

Why Pinterest Contests?

Here is why you should run a contest on Pinterest:

Using Pinterest contests, your brand can engage with consumers in a personal and cost-effective way. Read more…

23 AugWhat Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day

 

How much does the first hour of every day matter? As it turns out, a lot. It can be the hour you see everything clearly, get one real thing done, and focus on the human side of work rather than your task list.

 

Remember when you used to have a period at the beginning of every day to think about your schedule, catch up with friends, maybe knock out a few tasks? It was called home room, and it went away after high school. But many successful people schedule themselves a kind of grown-up home room every day. You should too.

The first hour of the workday goes a bit differently for Craig Newmark of Craigslist, David Karp of Tumblr, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, career writer (and Fast Company blogger) Brian Tracy, and others, and they’ll tell you it makes a big difference. Here are the first items on their daily to-do list. Read more…

23 Aug10 Reasons Why Your Social Media Marketing Efforts Aren’t Working–And What You Can Do About It

If you’re frustrated with the results you’re getting from your social media marketing efforts, you are not alone. Following are some of the top reasons your strategy isn’t working, and how you can turn that around to achieve better results.

1. Lack of Clear Goals: If you’re sharing content on social media networks without a clearly defined end goal, then your efforts are likely being wasted. With social media—or any marketing that you do for your business—you need to choose an intended outcome. Do you want to increase website traffic? Encourage people to sign up for your mailing list? Get exposure for your book? Improve brand recognition? Your goals become the target that you aim for. Without a goal, you might as well shoot arrows up into the sky and hope they land somewhere near the target.

2. Unrealistic Expectations: While clearly defined goals are important, it’s equally as important to make sure that your expectations are realistic. Social media is not a magic wand. It’s unlikely to attract truckloads of customers immediately. It is, however, a long-term marketing strategy for building brand recognition, getting repeat exposure with clients, attracting leads, promoting events, and eventually generating sales. Incidentally, social media should not be your sole marketing strategy; it should work in concert with your other marketing tactics such as print advertising, PR, referrals, etc. Every business should always run multiple marketing campaigns concurrently. Read more…

29 MayGoogle Finally Takes A Clear Stance On Mobile SEO Practices

Today at SMX Advanced during the iSEO panel, Pierre Far, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, announced clear guidelines and recommendations on mobile SEO. In short, Google recommends you go with a responsive design when possible, otherwise you can use device-specific HTML but Google asks you to take certain steps to communicate when you are using device-specific HTML.

Google has been known to offer contradictory advice on mobile SEO thus far and Google wanted to take a watch and listen approach to see how webmasters were implementing their mobile web sites. Now Google has come out with their official recommendations on how to build mobile web sites that work best for users and at the same time work well for Google.

In December 2011, Google introduced a new mobile user agent for Googlebot-Mobile Smartphones, which was responsible for detecting mobile content. Now Google is offering specific recommendations on which way to build your mobile sites.

Three Methods of Smartphone Mobile Site Design
Google says there are three basic configurations when going mobile, however they do seem to strongly recommend going with the responsive design approach.

Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
Sites that dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URLs, but each URL serves different HTML (and CSS) depending on whether the user agent is a desktop or a mobile device.
Sites that have a separate mobile and desktop sites.
Responsive Design Approach
Google says if possible, they recommend you go with the responsive design approach. This is where you use CSS3 media queries to alter the way the page renders on mobile devices. In this case, there is one URL, one content, one HTML code but CSS media queries to specify which CSS rules apply for the browser displaying the page. Google says the advantages of this method include having one URL making it easier for your users to interact with the page and enable Google’s “algorithms to assign the indexing properties to your content.” It is also more efficient when Google is crawling your content because Google doesn’t have to crawl multiple pages.

Device-Specific HTML Approach
If you are going with the dynamic serving configuration, which is fine, Google recommends you use the Vary HTTP header to give Google a hint that the content and CSS may change based on the useragent. The header is commonly used for caching purposes but can also be used in this situation to communicate the content has changed based on the useragent. In this case, it would be used as a indexing and crawling signal for Googlebot-Mobile.

Pierre from Google explains:

As for the separate mobile site configuration, since there are many ways to do this, our recommendation introduces annotations that communicate to our algorithms that your desktop and mobile pages are equivalent in purpose; that is, the new annotations describe the relationship between the desktop and mobile content as alternatives of each other and should be treated as a single entity with each alternative targeting a specific class of device.
These annotations will help us discover your smartphone-optimized content and help our algorithms understand the structure of your content, giving it the best chance of performing well in our search results.

Google has a developer site with more on how to implement this solution. Please note that depending on if you go with the new URL versus the same URL, the annotations Google asks you to use are different. So during your implementation, please read the developer site. Read more…

15 MayIs Frequency a Pay-off or Piss-off Strategy?

We’ve all heard about contact frequency strategies: Send (often) the same communications to your target audience repeatedly over a period of time.

The rule of thumb is that you’ll get half of the response rate you got from the prior mailing. So if you got 1 percent the first drop, you’ll get 0.5 percent the second, 0.25 percent the third and so on.

But if you continue to bombard your target over and over and over and over, does it really pay-off? Or does it just piss off your audience?

Earlier this year, I started noticing that Comcast was sending me a lot of direct mail solicitations. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.

First it occurred to me that perhaps the marketing team at Comcast had never heard of a merge/purge process. Or perhaps the person who was in charge of merge/purge had gone on vacation … or had been laid off … or had dozed off.

So instead of filing them in the recycle bin like I usually do, I started to save every package that came to my office. And then I noticed that my husband was also being bombarded with the same packages at his home office—so I saved those too. Read more…

12 MayHiring Hustle: 5 Tips for Building a Killer Startup Team

 

 

Hiring, especially in Silicon Valley, can be one of the toughest challenges of running a startup, as there’s so much competition — especially for engineers. When trying to run a lean startup, the prospect of spending 20% or more of a hire’s salary on recruiter fees is not exactly appealing. But recruiters aren’t your only option for hiring. There are lots of ways to hustle your hiring on the cheap — here are five tips.


1. Have a Structured Recruitment Process


It’s good practice to come up with a structured recruitment process, which you can evolve over time and bypass only for exceptional candidates. Having every candidate go through the same process means that you will have a level playing field on which to evaluate them; we’ve often found that when we’ve skipped our interview process for a candidate, there are glaring issues down the line that we hadn’t picked up on. Here’s a good step-by-step outline. Read more…

03 MayThree Steps to Determine if Social Local Mobile Is Right for Your Business

There’s a new buzzword marketers are using and, unlike some buzzwords, this is one that you should probably learn.

The term is SoLoMo and it stands for “social, local and mobile.”

What it describes is the convergence of social, location-based and mobile marketing into a new category of tools that many businesses are using to acquire new customers.

The odds are you’re already familiar with some SoLoMo tools such as Yelp,Foursquare and Groupon. But you may not be familiar with how to use these tools to attract new customers. That’s what we’re going to talk about here. But first, let’s take a look at how SoLoMo works.


You’re probably familiar with many SoLoMo tools already.

 

Wrapping Your Mind Around SoLoMo

You already know about the social part of SoLoMo. These are social media tools that generally allow the participants to have a dialogue with a business or to share thoughts, opinions and comments with other users. They include well-known entities such as FacebookTwitter and Google+. Read more…

22 AprNine Ways to Make Your Website Effective

A bit of time spent planning before you start working on a new website can save you time, money and headaches.

Here are a few points to consider before you set up your website:

  1. Put someone in charge. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to have someone outside or inside your company doing the work on your website – you need someone to be responsible for keeping the site up to date and performing well. Websites aren’t “set and forget” sales generators – they need to be regularly updated and fine tuned, or you will find your leads slowly dwindling.
  2. Have a budget, and a timeline. Developing a website can quickly eat up more time and money than first anticipated – so make sure you map out a detailed agreement with your developer before you hand over any money. Get your developer to produce and commit to a project brief and a timeline for implementing it, including a definite “launch” date for the site. Make sure it includes all of the features you want your site to contain, and that there are regular reviews built in.
  3. Know who you’re selling to, and what your site needs to do for you. Do your customers want to buy online and have their purchase sent to them? Do they just want to research your product or service and then make contact in person? Do you need a shopping cart, or don’t you? How ‘tech savvy’ are your customers, and how important are bells and whistles to them? A thorough profile of your customers and their needs are critical to designing the right site to appeal to them – and can save you a bundle of money if you can eliminate unnecessary website features.
  4. Make sure updating your site will be easy. If you plan on managing your site in-house, choose a developer that provides a Content Management System (CMS) so you can update the site yourself. If you only plan on periodic updates to your site and you want to outsource, make sure the costs and scope for this are included in your project brief with your developer. You don’t want to be stuck paying through the nose every time you want to advertise a special on your own site!
  5. Check out your competition. Look at your competitors’ websites, and assess what you need to do to be in their league or better. There’s no point spending time and money on a site that won’t stack up again your competitors.
  6. List other sites you like or dislike. This is a great help for your developer, and will prevent your designer coming back to show you something you can’t stand! Tell your designer what you like or don’t like about the sites, and remember they don’t have to be in your industry. You’re just looking for design and functionality.
  7. Carry your brand through. Your website is more than just an electronic brochure, but it should still look like your website. Give your existing marketing material to your developer, so that they can design a site that ties into your brand and the way you present yourself.
  8. Work out what will be regularly updated, and what will be mostly static. Choose a few areas on your site that you update regularly – at least monthly. You might have a news section, specials, a library of articles, or an archive of your newsletters. This is important to maintain your search engine rankings and keep your site looking current for your customers.
  9. Get your site ranked. There’s no point having a great website that no one but your existing customers can find. Work out how you’re going to go about getting a great Google ranking, and then do it from day one of your site going live. It takes time to build up a good search rank. If you don’t have someone in-house who can manage your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), find a reputable company to manage it for you. Media One Pro (Google them!) is a favorite of ours, or your developer may be able to help you with this.