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Two Things You Can't Overlook In Search Engine Optimization

In our experience, search engine optimization is wildly popular with small business owners because of the potential to bring in thousands of new potential customers from Google, Yahoo, and Bing every day.

However, you can't miss the forest for the trees. As great as SEO is, there are still some pitfalls to avoid. Clients tend to think that it's all about getting to the top spot on Google, but there's a little more to it than that. Here are two things you absolutely can't overlook when it comes to search engine optimization:

You have to start with the right research. Being on the first page for a keyword is great, but only if it's one that can ultimately bring you customers. We see far too many online marketers concentrate on words and phrases they think will bring lots of traffic, when what they should be focused on is finding the right set of visitors who are likely to buy.

Your landing pages still need to be persuasive for buyers. Just as bringing the wrong sets of visitors to your site will not help you sell anything, neither will bringing the right ones if you can't give them compelling reasons to do what you want them to. Search engine optimization is valuable only if it leads to action. Don't forget that and fall into the trap of thinking that a whole lot of traffic will automatically translate into an unimaginable number of sales… it doesn't always happen that way, especially if your web pages aren't well-written and designed. 

The 3 Biggest Makes In Hiring A Web Design Firm

Perhaps it's because there's so many different kinds of web design companies out there, or because a new small business site represents such a big expense for a lot owners, but we talk to a lot of potential clients who end up feeling lost and confused by the process of finding someone to help them turn their ideas into an Internet reality.

That's completely understandable; finding a creative team for your small business site isn't really similar to anything else you would do in the course of running your company. There is more than just pricing or straightforward quality comparisons to make – each firm has its own style, the range, way of doing things, etc.

To help you sort through the pack, and make the best decision possible, here are the three biggest mistakes small business owners make when hiring a web design firm:

Going with the cheapest one, no matter what. 

Your website is likely to be viewed by more potential customers than any other marketing piece you'll produce. With that in mind, it makes sense to think about getting the maximum return on your investment, not just the lowest upfront cost.

Looking for samples that show companies similar to yours. 

It makes sense that if you run a pet shop, for example, you'd want a web designer who's worked on lots of other pet shops, too… right? Sometimes, but not always. That's because even if they specialize in that type of business, quality should be a key consideration. Explaining what your company does is usually an easy step; finding someone who can give you a great-looking design isn't.

Thinking only about layouts. 

Speaking of great-looking designs, there's a lot more that goes into your website beyond just the simple aesthetics. From HTML coding to custom web apps and even search engine optimization, you want to choose a team that can help give you everything you need to build a stronger company, not just put up a pretty online brochure. Be sure to ask your web designer what kind of experience and philosophy they have towards helping you market your new site – not just put it on the Internet.

Is Your Logo Building Your Brand… or Distracting You From What Matters?

It might surprise you to know this, but one of our least favorite questions is: “Can you design a logo for my company?”

As the head of a graphic design firm that works on dozens of logos every year,  what gives? The problem isn’t with logos themselves, or the process of designing logos, but the difference between what they are and what new clients sometimes think they mean.

To see why that’s so problematic, let’s take a look at a couple of important distinctions.

Your Logo is a Visual Component of Your Brand

New clients and inexperienced marketers love logos, and devote a lot of their time to them, because they are easy to understand. A good logo is more than a symbol, it’s a representation of your brand in a nutshell.

As such, it needs to not only have the right colors and graphical elements, but also incorporate fonts, styles, and even emotional elements that stand up for your marketing message on everything from a website to a business card along with the literally dozens of identity pieces that can come between.

Your Brand is Much Bigger Than a Logo

For all the praise and importance heaped onto a logo, however, it really represents the tip of the branding iceberg – something that’s highly visible, but that can actually obscure the more weighty and important pieces below.

For example, companies like Coca-Cola, Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks all have well-known logos; however, their brands aren’t successful because of those logos. Instead, the logos themselves reinforce strong, clear impressions that have been built one interaction at a time. The logo isn’t the company; it’s a reminder of the product, the customer service, and the emotional connection that customers have with their favorite businesses.

Reducing branding to a logo is like equating a whole pizza to a slice of pepperoni. It makes for a nice instant visual, but it only tells a small part of the story. If your brand isn’t bigger than your logo, you don’t have a brand at all – you have a visual identity and a lot of wasted opportunities.

Logos Matter, But They Aren’t All That Matters

By now, it should be clear what the ultimate message is: It’s great to have a logo, and perfectly acceptable to have one designed (or redesigned) for your company. If you make that the focal point of your branding efforts, however, you’re missing the point entirely.

Logos are important, but they aren’t the only things that matter.  The power of a strong brand is much more valuable than a catchy piece of art, no matter how effective you think it is at capturing your position in the market.