Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Marketing Testimonials&References Matter Most

By | Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, What Are People Saying | No Comments

How do you convert a business prospect into a believer that what you are selling holds the true value regardless of what your competitors are selling? It boils down testimonials, referrals and real data to back it up.Testimonials are and should be considered true marketing if they are written honestly, with real facts and the ability for new business to contact your references direct if needed. They provide the much-needed ‘proof’ for waivering prospects and can be used to convert more easily if given the ability and access.It’s easy to sell myself and make the promise that I have your businesses best interest in the forefront of my mind but it can be an up hill battle to sing my own praises when I have competitors that might brow beat me simply by price.Inorder to be able to compete in such a saturated and competitive marketplace here are four tips for how I make honest and competitive use of testimonials:1) Westward doesn’t over-edit. Our testimonials work best when they are in real people language. The real written language helps our readers connect which demonstrates that we are an honest company looking out for our clients each and every day.2) Westward uses testimonials that fit. We place appropriate testimonials along with a particular point that we are trying to make and back it up with facts. Call us on it if you want. We’d be happy to deliver the information.3) Westward never fakes it. While testimonials are crucial, we don’t take the risk to fake them. We figured that most people have well-trained ‘this is a crock’ detector and they can smell a fake a mile away. If you would like a list of our references – contact me direct: info@westwardstrategy.com.4) Westward always encourages specifics. Whether a client gives us a testimonial on their own or whether we ask them for one, we do ask our clients to be specific on how Westward helped them. Wouldn’t you want to know exactly what we did as far as specifics for the client rather than a bland – yeah Westward Strategy was great cause they just were!Read ‘real‘ accounts of how Westward Strategy has been an asset to clients by visiting the testimonials page, my Linked in page or any of my local associations: Better Business Bureau, eWomen Network, Sparks Chamber of Commerce or the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

SEO Checklist for Your New Website

By | seo, SEO Tidbit, Tips and Tricks, Web Design Tidbit | 6 Comments

A checklist to use during the development process
Are you ready to build a website for your small business or for yourself? There are simple search engine optimization steps you should consider during the development process.

The following 12 step optimization checklist will bring you one step closer to maximizing your revenues with smart web design.

1.) Choose a domain name, that is a URL, that is descriptive of what your website will represent:

  • Your business name (ex. WestwardStrategy.com)
  • Your first and last name (ex. KristyCrabtree.com) or
  • Keyword specific phrase (ex. WestwardDesignGroup.com)

2.) Decide what keywords and/or phrase targets the visitors you are looking for, and that best describes what your business offers.

3.) Sub directory names using keywords or phrases should use hyphens in the url: http://url.com/descriptive-keyword/

4.) Title tags are the words that appear on site visitor’s browser tabs as they navigate through your site. Clearly define your title tags for each individual web page making sure that it is accurate and descriptive of the page’s content. Keep it 70 characters or less.

  • (Example 1) Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
  • (Example 2) Brand Name | Primary Keyword and Secondary Keyword

5.) The meta description is the primary source of information search engines review, and this is also the information that appears along with your site name in the search engine results. Clearly define your meta descriptions for each individual web page making sure that it too is accurate and descriptive of the page’s content. Keep it 155 characters or less

EXAMPLE: Keyword/Phrase Search Results

Key Word/Phrase Result Image

6.) Develop keyword rich content on all pages including the keyword and/or phrase within the content

7.) Use descriptive words for your navigation when it makes sense

8.) Name all images on website with descriptive image names:

  • (Example) chocolate-lab-running.jpg vs. img0893.jpg

9.) The title tags are the words that visitor’s click to reach the hyperlinks behind them. Add descriptive title tags to anchor links

  • (Example) title=â€? Descriptive Title Tagâ€? vs. title=â€?Click Hereâ€?

10.) Setup Google Analytics and see who’s visiting your website and who’s giving you referral’s: http://www.google.com/analytics

11.) Create a sitemap and submit to Google Webmaster Tools and other search engines. The free tools give you a look under the hood at your website performance: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools

12.) Add new website to local free business listings and other free directory sites

__________________________________________

Contributed by Kristy Crabtree
Westward Strategy & Design Group

Web Design Tidbit – July 27th, 2009

By | Tips and Tricks, Web Design Tidbit | 5 Comments

Cheat sheets can be time and life savers. Even if you develop websites all the time there are probably more than a few html tags or CSS techniques that you forget on a regular basis. For me it’s the font-style property.

Even if you are a CSS and html rockstar (like yours truly!), it doesn’t hurt to have a few resources up your sleeve. Luckily for the purpose of this post, this Mega CSS Resource Roundup was just published this weekend. I can vouch for the quality of several of the CSS cheat sheets, the html entities resources and the layouts from Layout Gala. Also, if you haven’t been over to CSS Play you are missing out on an exceptional resource for all things CSS. You can also use the W3 Schools website as a quick reference for properties and all of their values – like the font-style property.

See you next week for another tidbit!

SEO Tidbit – July 13th, 2009

By | SEO Tidbit, Tips and Tricks | 4 Comments

Once in a while an SEO tool comes along that becomes absolutely invaluable and so priceless that you ask yourself how you ever survived without it. One of those SEO tools that occupies a primary spot in my SEO tool belt is the SEO Blogger Plugin from Wordtracker. SEO Blogger allows you to do keyword research right from the same screen you are writing in. You don’t have to launch another application or open another tab in your browser. Simply launch the plugin from the link at the bottom of the page and you are all set. Type in a keyword and the tool will pull up all variations of that keyword and the number of searches. Add the keywords you want and the tool automatically shows you the number of times you have used that keyword or phrase in your blog post, allowing you to optimize your post as you write.

See you next week for another Tidbit!

Web Design Tidbit – July 6th, 2009

By | Tips and Tricks, Web Design, Web Design Tidbit | No Comments

Creating a print stylesheet from scratch can be a time consuming matter and is more often than not overlooked when nearing the end of a web design or development project. One of the quickest and easiest ways to deploy a print stylesheet is to use the Hartija CSS Print Framework.

This is not an end solution and you will need to modify it to add your classes and ID’s, but it is a big boost over starting from scratch. When you’ve completed your print stylesheet simply link it like your other stylesheets.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="print.css" type="text/css" media="print">

Just make sure to set your media to print!

See you next week for another tidbit!

SEO Tidbit – June 22, 2009

By | Natural Search Engine Optimization, seo, SEO Tidbit, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Many designers, developers, content managers and webmasters forget to utilize text or body copy for navigation and internal linking structure. Part of a strong optimization process involves capitalizing on your content for in-content or contextual links which link to pages deep within you site.

Use good anchor text that relates to the page you are linking to and if possible use text that is found within your title tag, description or page headlines. Of course this may mean rewriting some of these elements to be more optimized to your targeted key phrase.

See you next week for another Tidbit!

SEO Tidbit – June 8th 2009

By | Natural Search Engine Optimization, seo, SEO Tidbit, Tips and Tricks | One Comment

Do not allow your administration page to get indexed by the search engines

With this one simple line added to your robots.txt file you can avoid having your content management system (CMS) administration or login page indexed by the search engines.
Disallow: /admin/
Note: change “admin” to whatever directory or page has your CMS login on it. For example in WordPress this would be:
Disallow: /wp-login.php
For good measure you could also add this meta tag to the head of your login page or the index page in your login directory.
meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow"

See you next week for another tidbit!

The Questions You Should Ask a Prospective Web Design Agency

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Portfolio, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Web Design, Westward Strategy | No Comments

After having met with several discruntled and frankly over promised and under delivered small businesses, I thought it would be best to re-distribute a helpful post from 2007 that still holds extreme value during these slower economic times: Top 10 Questions You Should Ask a Prospective Web Design Agency.

1 ) How long have you been in business?

Think about what type of company you are comfortable working with before you meet with them. If they give an answer outside of your comfort level tell them immediately. Some businesses don’t mind working with startups or individuals with lesser experience if the price is right. Everyone has to start somewhere, but if this is a risk you are not willing to take just tell the designer upfront.

2 ) Can I see examples of your work?

This is a must have for any designer or web agency. Make sure they have actual websites you can review on your own computer at any time you want. Avoid designers that only show you their work in a PowerPoint presentation or only on their computer.

3 ) Do you have testimonials from other clients?

Good designers and companies will happily provide a list of satisfied clients, both past and present. We even make them publicly available on our website.

4 ) What is the experience level of your team?

While almost every company has a few noobs (pronounced newbies) there should be some senior members on the team. Again, this is a comfort level thing on your part. Don’t get caught up in sales pitches and listen to your instincts here.

5 ) What programming languages and development tools do you use?

Even though you may not care about the answer to this question, it is important information for you to know. At the very least they should be able to hand code html. Other acceptable languages are PHP, ASP, XHTML, CSS, AJAX and javascript.

For development tools look for names such as Adobe or Macromedia (although Adobe now owns Macromedia).

6 ) What is your process for designing and developing a website?

A well outlined plan or process ensures you and your vendor know each other’s respective roles in the design and development of your website. It also will help you gauge their level of experience. Beware of companies that don’t have a plan!

7 ) What is the change process after the website is finished?

At some point your website, no matter how great it is, will need some changes or updates made. Find out what the process is for having these changes made. One way to avoid having to work with your vendor for content updates is to see if they will implement a content management system on your website.

8 ) Do you provide hosting?

Ask very specific questions about where the site will be hosted. If you need to, review our August 2007 post: Protect Your Website and Domain!

9 ) What other service solutions can you provide?

You never know what other services they may be able to provide unless you ask. It is often easier on you and can build a stronger brand identity if one company or designer can handle multiple aspects of your marketing. Ask them about direct marketing, email marketing, and natural search optimization services.

10) Who owns the website in the end?

There is only one acceptable answer here. No matter what, the client owns the website including all graphics and content. The only exception is if your website uses a content management system. Often the CMS is outlined in your contract with the vendor as belonging to the vendor as their intellectual property.